Of 89 criminal cases recently solved with the growing but controversial use of genetic genealogy databases — all following the highly-publicized arrest of the Golden State Killer in 2018 — just four were crimes perpetrated against a Black victim. Cases solved with genetic genealogy, as a recent Atlantic article notes, “tended to be notorious crimes” that stuck in the public memory, where evidence was maintained for years and news coverage was widespread.

This racial disparity should be surprising — after all, Black people are more likely to be victims of homicide than people of other races, and are in fact more likely to experience violent crime in general. But the lack of “notorious” unsolved crimes involving Black victims is part of a larger American problem: the devaluing of the lives and experiences of Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), as evidenced by clear racial disparities in crime victimization.

The research shows that not only are Black Americans – especially those in poverty – disproportionately victims of crime, but that crimes against Black people are less likely to be cleared by police and less likely to receive news coverage than crimes against white people. What’s more, crimes with Black victims are also more likely to be deemed “justifiable” by the courts. In this briefing, we highlight and discuss research findings about those disparities.

The lack of media attention to crimes involving victims of color may actually explain some of the difference in police clearance rates. News coverage can help make people aware that a crime occurred, lead to information from the public, and keep pressure on police departments. For example, the media and public obsession over certain crimes, dubbed the “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” can mean less attention is given to cases of missing Black people.

Read the full article about unsolved violent crimes against Black and Latinx people  by Katie Rose Quandt and Alexi Jones at Prison Policy Initiative.