New LSU study links blight and homicide  

The greater the blight, the higher the risk of homicides is the conclusion of a new study led by LSU Department of Sociology Assistant Professor Matthew Valasik, the first to make a statistical connection between homicide, blighted buildings and convenient stores in Baton Rouge, LSU announced.

Along with Valasik, the study was done by Elizabeth Brault, a doctoral candidate in sociology, and former student Stephen Martinez, an investigator in the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office.

In looking at where Baton Rouge homicides occurred in the city in 2016, they found that nearly 25% of them took place within homicides in Baton Rouge takes place within a geographic area comprising about 3% of the city.

They then used a computer model to run 18 different environmental risk factors on those locations, discovering most of the homicides happened in areas where there were either blighted buildings or a concentration of convenience stores. This study was published recently in the journal Social Science Research.

The researchers mapped out the city to identify where blighted buildings and convenient stores are clustered. Then, they overlaid where homicides occurred the next year, in 2017. The results were stark.

“If you are within a three and half block radius of a convenience store, the risk of homicide increases five-fold. Similarly, if you live within two and a half blocks of a blighted building, the risk increases by 13 times,” Valasik said.
He is the first to study how the physical landscape and built environment in Baton Rouge correlates with crime. Read the full story about his research.

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