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Resources for Criminal Justice Statistics
On July 7, President Obama addressed a nation in mourning, saying in part, “If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder. So when people say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter; it just means all lives matter, but right now the big concern is the fact that the data shows [our emphasis added] black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.”
The data shows. Here are some data resources that connect you with data to better understand this multi-faceted, extremely important topic.
Criminal Justice Data / Government Issued
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics maintains more than a dozen national data collections covering federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and special topics in law enforcement. Most data collections are conducted every 2 to 4 years and focus on aggregate or agency-level responses, meaning the information that is collected pertains to units, such as police departments, training academies, and crime labs. Includes pages such as Use of Force.
- The BJS published this frequently cited report Black Victims of Violent Crime (2007). While dated, the report is still frequently cited and so could be considered worth a read.
- The FBI maintains a page of Crime Statistics and data, along with special reports.
Criminal Justice Data / Other
There has been criticism by some, as outlined by this article from the Harvard School of Public Health, regarding the government’s collection of data regarding some criminal justice issues. As a result, other organizations have begun alternate means of collecting data.
- The Washington Post has compiled a Fatal Force Statistics database with stats for both 2015 and 2016. They started the project in light of the events in Ferguson, MO, in 2014. They use news reports and other public records to compile the info, and this database only registers shootings, not other deaths by force between police officers and suspect.
- Likewise, The Guardian created a database called The Counted. This database is similar to The Washington Post datasets but includes all suspects who were killed by police, whereas the Post database focuses on shootings.
- Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide between Black and White Americans is based on a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This poll surveyed 1,223 adults, including 311 black adults, and was conducted online and by phone over two day in July 2015. The poll sample was drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population.
- The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. Read Pew reports on Race and Ethnicity or Discrimination and Prejudice or Divide between blacks and whites on police runs deep.
- Opposing Viewpoints is a robust library resource that can be accessed with your PPL card. This online tools covers today’s most important social issues, such as criminal justice and race. Its informed, differing views present various sides of an issue and help researchers develop the confidence to draw their own valid conclusions.
- PolitiFact, a fact-checking website, concluded in August 2014 that police kill more whites than blacks citing data from the Centers for Disease Control on fatal injuries by “legal intervention” from 1999 to 2011. Read more here and link to the sources cited. PolitiFact also notes that whites make up 63% of the US population, while blacks make up just 12%.
- Maine.gov’s webpage on Crime in Maine houses records dating back to 1995. You can contact them directly for older information. Here you will find information on crime rates, arrest data, and data on assaults on police officers.
- Maine.gov also houses the Police Shooting Reports Archive. Here you will find the Attorney General’s Report on all police shootings in Maine.
- The Maine.gov Statistics Portal gives quick links to Maine specific demographic and crime rate data among other fields of data.
- The USM Muskie School has published the Maine Crime and Justice Data book (2014), which also includes sections and data on race.
- With your PPL card you can access the Maine Newsstand and retrieve articles from the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News and other local papers back to the mid-90’s.
- You can find all public documents (annual reports, media logs, arrest records) of the Portland Police Department here. These documents are in addition to the above links that cover Maine in general.
Demographic / Census Information:
- To find general information on race, the US Census Bureau is a good place to look. You can search for the percentage of persons of various races (self-identified) in the US as a whole or in specific geographies. The Census can also connect you to data on economic status, education attainment, housing status, and much more.
*Please note it is always important to look at the methodology of data collection, how the data is presented, who is collecting the data etc.