data request

It is happening again. Lawyers who don’t know anything about data analysis make a request (often an official open records request) for information from agencies. Because I have gotten a reputation for analyzing public data and making it reveal previously-unseen patterns and I’m part of the commission  or board or task force, they ask me to  analyze it. This time the open records request vaguely asked for information on the racial breakouts of arrests and traffic stops and was sent to the two dozen law enforcement agencies in the county.  Continue reading “data request”

it’s nine o’clock: do you know what your citations say?

Folks with an interest in the sociology of science and knowledge may have noticed this little gem that appeared in BMJ. It’s an article by Steven Greenberg titled, “How citation distortions create unfounded authority: analysis of a citation network.” The abstract, in somewhat abridged form, is nothing if not intriguing:
Continue reading “it’s nine o’clock: do you know what your citations say?”

looking for a roommate at asa?

One of my grad students is looking for a roommate at ASA. I know it’s not the most exciting use of scatterplot, but hey, why not?

ASA Roommate wanted, $55

I booked a room through priceline at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf hotel for
Saturday and Sunday nights of ASA.  It’s right by the waterfront and a 20
minute cable car trip (cable car, how cool is that … or a 30 minute walk)
to the conference hotel.  The room has 2 double beds and the hotel is a 3
1/2 star hotel. I’m looking for somebody to split the room.  Cost to you:
$55 per night for everything (taxes included).   I am a male grad student.
Email me if interested:

Google directions/map between the hotel and the conference:

police report

Lots of folks are already on this, but I wanted to post about  the police report for the arrest of Henry “Skip” Gates in Cambridge the other day. Here’s a copy of the police report on the arrest of Gates for disorderly conduct which was posted by BigSole whom I got to from Field Negro. Today a Facebook link pointed me to this careful analysis of the report at The officer is clearly trying to justify the disorderly conduct arrest, which has to involve other people and a public place and cannot be made inside a person’s own house. Even the officer’s own version of events involve him persuading Gates to walk outside so that he could have an excuse to arrest him. Gates had already provided his identification and the officer makes it clear in his report that while he was still inside Gates’s house he knew he was no longer investigating any kind of crime. Gates’s “crime” in the officer’s own report consists solely of loudly accusing the officer of being a racist and asking for his name and badge number. The report makes it clear that the arrest was meant as a retaliation for being yelled at and called a racist, and he really didn’t care that the charge wasn’t going to stick. Continue reading “police report”

factual question about going to trial

There are some criminologists among the scatterplotters. Can you help? In my county, my analysis of court records showed that in a recent year only 31 of 2663 (1.2%) criminal cases involving at least one felony charge went to trial, and only 11 of 5306 misdemeanor cases (0.2%) went to trial. For the cases involving a felony charge, 80% involved a guilty plea on at least one charge (which may not have been the felony) while 19.3% had neither a guilty plea nor a trial, i.e. charges were dismissed one way or another; for the misdemeanor-only cases, 85% involved a guilty plea and 14.8% had neither a guilty plea nor trial. Are these numbers comparable to other places? Everybody in the system knows that most cases are pled out, but even the lawyers here think the percent going to trial is extremely low. There are suggestions that the overworked prosecutor’s office does everything it can to avoid trials. I know I could research this question in the literature, but I’m hoping that someone who lectures on this can tell me what the “usual” percentages are.