Date of Award

Fall 1991

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Lawrence C Hamilton


Research on lethal violence has consistently overlooked the area of justifiable homicide in the U.S. This analysis has addressed this oversight through a three part examination of justifiable homicides. A historical review is presented which analyzes the concept of justifiable homicide in western society and finds that certain themes are prominent, such as defense of life and of property. The next section of the work entails a descriptive analysis of justifiable homicide in the U.S. from 1976 through 1987 utilizing Supplementary Homicide Reports data gathered under the Uniform Crime Reporting program. This examination reveals that justifiable homicide differs in some important respects from criminal homicide, such as weapons, and circumstance. The final section of the work involved a statistical analysis of a proposed model which advances the idea that economic deprivation, racial demographics, and social disorganization all predict justifiable homicide in that they create life threatening situations which in turn increase the probability of justifiable homicides. The variety of different statistical techniques performed all support the model.