Archive for the 'Crime/Prisoners' Category

Mystery of the missing tables

The First FBI Crime Report Issued Under Trump Is Missing A Ton Of Info
Clare Malone and Jeff Asher | FiveThirtyEight blog
October 27, 2017

This is a case of missing tables, rather than missing data. But it is a crucial loss because many reporters and state/local government folks just use the tables for reporting purposes. Imagine if the Census Bureau eliminated the tabular data from the Census/ACS. It would be a disaster.

The FBI portal added a new data tool, but it does not have the capability to produce the missing tables because it requires aggregation of many years. And, even for those that use raw microdata, the published tables provide a useful check on coding/weighting assumptions.

It is not unheard of for tables to be re-assessed and deleted, but this review process did not take place.

Changes to the UCR’s yearly report are not unheard of, and the press release that accompanies the 2016 report, which was published in late September, acknowledges the removal of some tables, saying that the UCR program had “streamlined the 2016 edition.” But changes to the report typically go through a body called the Advisory Policy Board (APB), which is responsible for managing and reviewing operational issues for a number of FBI programs. This time they did not.

Another reason to eliminate tables is for efficiency for the data provider. But:

“How much time and savings is there in moving an online table?” Nolan said. “These are canned programs: You create table 71 and table 71 is connected to a link in a blink of an eye.”

UPDATE:
Criminologists Are Asking Jeff Sessions To Release FBI Crime Data
Clare Malone | FiveThirtyEight blog
November 30, 2017

On Tuesday, a research alliance representing two professional associations of criminologists lodged a formal statement of concern with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting FBI Director Christopher Wray over a number of data tables that were missing from the FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report.

INTERESTING, IF DEPRESSING NUGGET:
The new head of the Bureau of Justice Statistics is a sabermatrician:

. . .Jeffrey Anderson, a former professor of political science with no apparent statistical background besides helping create a system to assess the strength of college football teams, adjusted for their schedule difficulty.

New Orleans Bail System

The Vera Institute of Justice released a report finding that New Orleans collected $4.5 million in the form of bail, fines and fees, another $4.7 million was paid to for-profit bail bond agents and in 2015, the city spent $6.4 million to jail those who could not afford the bail, fines and fees.

Last week the New Orleans city council voted unanimously to end bail requirements for most nonviolent city crimes. However, it won’t do much to reduce the portion of the jail population who could not afford bail, fees and fines (about 550 people) because most of them have been charged with felonies and excluded misdemeanors or state crimes.

H/T FiveThirtyEight

Health Care, Hepatitis C and Prisons

Anna Maria Barry-Jester has a piece in FiveThirtyEight examining the rate of hepatitis C & treatment in prisons by state.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has guidelines for treating prisoners that include providing the new drugs. But the vast majority of U.S. prisoners are held in state facilities; about 1.4 million people are in state prisons, compared with about 191,000 in federal prisons.

The Geography of Prisons Is Changing

Prison populations from big cities have been dropping since 2006, while those from small rural counties have been rising. The New York Times Upshot examines this trend:

Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.

The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population.

How Mass Incarceration of Black People Skews Our Sense of Reality

Jeff Guo of Wonkblog examines how the absence of 1.6 million people from economic statistics affects the decisions politicians and policymakers make:

Though there are nearly 1.6 million Americans in state or federal prison, their absence is not accounted for in the figures that politicians and policymakers use to make decisions. As a result, we operate under a distorted picture of the nation’s economic health.

There’s no simple way to estimate the impact of mass incarceration on the jobs market. But here’s a simple thought experiment. Imagine how the white and black unemployment rates would change if all the people in prison were added to the unemployment rolls.

Predicting Crime

Maurice Chammah, writing for The Marshall Project, writes about the St. Louis police departments’ use of crime-predicting software.

HunchLab, produced by Philadelphia-based startup Azavea, represents the newest iteration of predictive policing, a method of analyzing crime data and identifying patterns that may repeat into the future. HunchLab primarily surveys past crimes, but also digs into dozens of other factors like population density; census data; the locations of bars, churches, schools, and transportation hubs; schedules for home games — even moon phases. Some of the correlations it uncovers are obvious, like less crime on cold days. Others are more mysterious: rates of aggravated assault in Chicago have decreased on windier days, while cars in Philadelphia were stolen more often when parked near schools.

H/T Flowing Data

Changes in Incarceration Rates

Keith Humphreys, writing for WonkBlog, examines recent changes in the U.S. incarceration rates:

After decades of growth, the U.S. imprisonment rate has been declining for the past six years. Hidden within this welcome overall trend is a sizable and surprising racial disparity: African-Americans are benefitting from the national de-incarceration trend but whites are serving time at increasingly higher rates.

Hall of Justice

The Sunlight Foundation has created a project called Hall of Justice which gathers publicly available criminal justice datasets and research.

While not comprehensive, Hall of Justice contains nearly 10,000 datasets and research documents from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and the federal government. The data was collected between September 2014 and October 2015. We have tagged datasets so that users can search across the inventory for broad topics, ranging from death in custody to domestic violence to prison population. The inventory incorporates government as well as academic data.

H/T Flowing Data

On Mass Incarceration

Oliver Roeder of FiveThirtyEight examines the phrase “mass incarceration” and how it relates to the prison population.

October’s cover of The Atlantic carries a headline that, even a decade ago, you probably never would’ve seen: “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” The 20,000-word article attached to it, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, covers the remarkable growth in the United States’ prison population and its outsize impact on black individuals, families and communities. That Coates’s piece employs the phrase “mass incarceration” 17 times is telling. The term has become ubiquitous in conversations about prison in the United States. But 10 years ago, barely anybody put the two words next to each other to talk about what the phrase has come to represent for many: everything that’s wrong with the American justice system.

Police calls and blurry neighborhood boundaries

Here’s a great piece using a mix of administrative data (complaint calls to the police), on-line forums, spatial data, and traditional census data to see what happens in the transition zones across neighborhoods. The first link is to the easy-to-read version as reported in CityLab; the second is the original piece, with more details about the methodology.

When Racial Boundaries Are Blurry, Neighbors Take Complaints Straight to 311
Laura Bliss | CityLab
August 25, 2015
In NYC, calls about noise and blocked driveways are most frequent in zones between racially homogenous neighborhoods.

Contested Boundaries: Explaining Where Ethno-Racial Diversity Provokes Neighborhood Conflict
Joscha Legewie and Merlin Schaeffer | Presentated at the American Sociological Meetings
August 21, 2015