ASU Professor Explains Theory On Montgomery Homicides


By Ashley Thompson

This week, Montgomery had it's 15th homicide after a shooting in the city left one man dead. Now, one professor at Alabama State University says he knows why these murders keep happening.

For the past couple of months Dr. Earnest Blackshear has partnered with Montgomery Police to come up with ways to reduce crime in Montgomery by looking at mental health.

Dr. Earnest Blackshear says the leading cause of death of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 is murder by the hands of another black male. He says this data rings true in Montgomery, which is why he's working with Montgomery Police to find out why there are so many shootings in the black community.

"We have to work on awareness campaigns to make it okay for people to understand that it's not the police's job to prevent homicide," he says. "The police's job is once a homicide occurs, to find the perpetrator."

Dr. Blackshear's research suggests those who live in impoverished areas often develop mental disorders as a result of living with constant violence around them.

"I'm saying the personality configuration of these young black males who live in these islands of concentrated poverty have the same configuration of a combat veteran except they don't have the treatment facilities and the assistance of diagnosing and treating."

He says those with mental illness lack conflict resolution techniques and become dangerous when armed. Dr. Blackshear says treatment is vital in the fight to stop the violence.

"Prevention is the responsibility of the mental health community because it's a problem with impulsive control, a lack of impulse control and a lot of aggression."

We went back to the neighborhood where the city's most recent homicide took place and asked people there what they thought of Dr. Blackshear's theory.

"I think the professor is absolutely positively right," says Renee Jenkins. "It's like murder, murder, kill, kill. It's all they know. It's all they intake. It's all they harness."

Others in the area say it's not fair to blame disease for the recent murders.

"There's a lot of homicides going on because of other reasons," says Donald Goldsmith. "It's not because of mental health."

Dr. Blackshear told us Montgomery Police are putting together a basketball tournament called Operation Nebula, where authorities will play against young men in these inner city areas in an effort to create better communication.

The professor also told Alabama News Network that Montgomery Police have been studying what is referred to as 'The Milwaukee Report' - a commission that pulls together mental health workers, social workers, and the criminal justice system to predict future homicides- and are trying to adapt it in Montgomery.

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