Thursday, October 23, 2014

More crime in Thurston county between 1990 and 2011 results in even more prison sentences

I'm sure my dad is going to have something to say about this post, but I found some interesting statistics while looking for something else this week. I was poking around, looking for county level statistics to create a Washington level "general happiness index." I wasn't planning on tracking it across time, just finding some quick list of the happiest of the counties.

So, crime rates in Thurston County, take a look:

What's going on here is while reported crimes grew at a slow rate between the early 1990 to a few years ago, the total number of criminal sentences by our county courts went way up. What explains this?

Stiffer mandatory sentences? This phenomena may have led to courts imposing stiffer criminal penalties over the last 20 years.


TVDinner said...

It would be interesting to plot total number of crimes reported as a percentage of population in Thurston County during that time period, too. Then you'd be able to see if the number of crimes reported increased as a result of population growth, or if the percentage decreased relative to population. There might be an interesting story in those numbers, too.

Randy Huyck said...

Emmett, there are a couple of things I would look at - first, I would add the felony jail stats to the prison sentences - they change over time in an inverse relationship of sorts and could explain some of the change in the latter. I would also look at how well the trendlines really fit the data - the correlations look weak...too weak to draw inferences.

Emmett said...

My dad, retired criminal justice statistician, responds via email:

Anyway... the simple fact is more criminals are going to prisons (local jail??too) and that means things are a little
calmer than they would be.

But the real picutre is a little fuzzy.

1. Does crime shown represent the most serious crimes for which people to to prison? If not and it represents all crime,
then it is unclear... hidden behind the slower growth in total crime may be a increase serious crime. That is something to be worried about.

2. If a greater percentage of convicted persons are going to prison or jail... it is probalby due to ranked order shown next.
a. a new and tougher prosecuter
b. tougher sentencing guidelines, which are being followed by the judges
c. tougher judges --- although this has been pretty rare historically...

3. Here heroin is the news. It has creeped deeply into the white middle class so the response is very different.
The press and interest groups are asking for more $ for treatment programs instead of get tough enforcement.