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Studies: Liquor Store Density Linked To Youth Violence

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RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Violent crime could be reduced significantly if cities limit the number of neighborhood liquor stores and ban the sale of single-serve containers of alcoholic beverages. That’s according to separate studies led by UC Riverside researchers.

In the first study, which was published this month, researchers found a correlation between the density of alcohol outlets and violent crime among teens and young adults between the ages of 13 to 24.

The study analyzed federal crime data for offenders ages 13-17 and 18-24, as well as the census population and economic data to determine crime rates and the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 of the largest American cities in 36 states.

“These results suggest that alcohol control can be an important tool in violence prevention,” said Robert Parker, a sociology professor and one of the study’s authors. “Policies designed to reduce outlet density can provide relief from violence in and around these neighborhood outlets. And banning or reducing the sales of single-serve, ready-to consume containers of alcohol can have an additional impact on preventing violence,” Parker said.

Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates, such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs, the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates.

“Our findings suggest that reducing alcohol outlet density should significantly reduce the trends of youth homicide,” Parker said.

Along with Parker, the study authors included sociology professor Kirk R. Williams; UCR research assistant Kevin J. McCaffree; sociology professor Emily K. Acensio of the University of Akron; Angela Brown of the Vera Institute of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and Kevin J. Strom and Kelle Barrick of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

In the second study, led by Parker, McCaffree and Daniel Skiles of the Institute for Public Strategies in San Bernardino, higher rates of violent crimes were found in neighborhoods near alcohol outlets that allot more than 10 percent of freezer space for single-serve containers.

Researchers from both UCR and the Institute for Public Strategies in San Bernardino collected data on alcohol outlet locations, violent crime reported to the San Bernardino Police Department and census data on a variety of population, family and age indicators.

The impact of sales of single-serve containers of alcoholic beverages alone was “modest,” they said. However, the researchers did find that as the percentage of cooler space devoted to single serve containers increased, so did the crime rate.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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