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Homicide in Barbados: an 18-year review

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Demographic, logistical, psychiatric and legal aspects of 313 homicides in Barbados between 1978 and 1995 inclusive were described. The overall annual homicide rate was moderately high on an international scale, but the 'abnormal' homicide rate was comparable with that of other countries. There was general concordance with several trends established in previous psychiatric studies of homicide in other cultures. However, several atypical features were also described, including higher rates of previous violent offending in the abnormal group than the 'normal' group, the absence of the typical finding that abnormal killers tend to be older than normal killers, and the presence of normal group-type temporal aspects of killing in the abnormal group including a Friday/Saturday peak. There was an unexpected finding concerning the method of killing by the abnormal group, in that beheading was surprisingly frequent. The criminal justice system in Barbados dealt with mentally disordered offenders in a conservative manner, with no difference in murder and manslaughter conviction rates between normal and abnormal groups, and the complete absence of 'not guilty' findings for the abnormal homicide group. These latter findings may be best understood within a cultural framework.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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