Using Official Crime Data

After reading Chapter 3 of the Mosher textbook, “An Arresting Experiment: Domestic Violence Victim and Perceptions” by Miller, and “Controlling a Jail Population by Partially Closing the Front Door” by Baumer and Adams, discuss the following prompts: 

How Important is it to use official crime data?

What are some issues with using official crime data?

What public policy changes could be made by relying upon the 2 articles?

According to the assigned textbook, official crime data within the criminal justice systems is those that derive from the normal function therein and official counts of crime data include that of police reports of offences and arrests, chargers filed by prosecutors, criminal complaints and indictments, imprisonment data and prison releases . Official crime data such as the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) in which gathers data for agencies such as the FBI is extremely important because it complies data from different sources to be used by many different law enforcement agencies. It can be used to analyze different trends in crimes. Having all data complied can not only help law enforcement with research, it also saves time when needing time sensitive information and it helps with budget due to not having to use different resources to gather information.

Just like any other source and technology, official crime data systems are not perfect and have been criticized for underestimation of less serious crimes . Some research argues that self-reporting data is more accurate than official crime data . Regardless of some criticism, official crime data does provide helpful information to agencies such as where crimes can be increasing, decreasing and what steps to take and programs to implement in order to see what is working for the community. Official crime data can also be used to understand what changes need to be made to current policies. Society and communities are always changing and having a resource such as official crime data can help policy makes understand what in current policies are working for the community and what changes in policies and programs need to be made in order to better serve the community.

Being able to do research will allow policy makers within the criminal justice system to better understanding where there could be any gaps and discrepancies that may exist within the system and help come up with ways to improve that system. Both articles, “An Arresting Experiment: Domestic Violence Victim and Perceptions” by Miller, and “Controlling a Jail Population by Partially Closing the Front Door” by Baumer and Adams discusses research conducted and its limitations. It is very important to understand the limitations that a study have in order to be able to duplicate the study with better outcomes and results. Both studies showed that there was a changes in criminal behavior when it resulted in immediate arrest, however, that does not help the overcrowded situations in many jail and prison. Regardless of arrests neither articles really stressed the use of a program introduced to the community in order to help lower criminal behavior, rather treatment is mandatory in the community or while incarcerated. Public policy changes would strong depend on the needs of the community based on the information gathered in the field by the law enforcement agencies. For example, in order to truly address the issue of domestic violence, policies need to be in place not only for the abuser but also for the victims and children present.