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Data on gun shot victims reflect important disparities in Jackson County

Posted at 9:44 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 23:33:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office analyzes data that comes in every week from the Kansas City Police Department on shootings to learn about gun violence.

It's compiled based on income, race, and what happened in the case. It has reflected some important disparities Kansas City.

Henry Chapman is a data analyst with Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. He's trying to reduce gun violence by looking at who it impacts.

Chapman said there are blunt race-income disparities.

While many gunshot victims don’t have listed income, the ones that do show an average $12,000 yearly income for Black men compared to $24,000 for white men.

“It just shows you how little people who are so close to gun violence make and how little structural support they have and how much stress that their lives must be having," Chapman said.

He also looked at who could get a chance at prosecution.

“We noticed a pretty stark disparity behind what kinds of cases get referred (for prosecution),” Chapman said. “For example, if you're a Black, male homicide victim in Kansas City, you had around a 51% chance of your case getting referred.”

That's compared to white males who have a 65% shot of their case being referred and white females who have a 73% chance.

When it comes to non-fatal shootings, Chapman said Kansas City sees four times as many compared to homicides.

Last year, there were more than 600, but only 1 in 5 will get to the prosecutor’s office.

Damon Daniel, president of the ADHOC Group Against Crime, said that wasn't a surprise. He looked at the data as a way to demand more justice.

“It’s important that the data is there that really kind of helps confirm those feelings and doubts about the system,” he said. “It confirms what we know or at least feel. I think that we all have to do better and come to the table to talk about it. How do we increase the number of those cases being charged? The only way to do that is to look at how do people come forward to share what they know.”

The prosecutor’s office said it's trying to elevate the priority of non-fatal shootings because it usually predicts future violence.

They said there are several factors in why someone's case would or wouldn’t get prosecuted, but this data gives Jackson County something to focus on.

“Building better ties with the police department, building better ties with case detectives, it means focusing more on electronic evidence which is something that our office is trying to pivot to more, just been prioritizing those cases more to make sure that we're doing all our due diligence in order to get them across the charging line," Chapman said.