Monday, August 07, 2006

What does that mean?

I was watching CNN last night and they had a report of a "new government study" that found that most people convicted of a violent felony have a prior conviction.

It was announced as if it was something important, something meaningfull.

But I don't understand what it means. I think I know what the report writer (or at least the writer of the press release that CNN got it's information from) wants us to think it means. But I somehow doubt that's what it actually means.

I think what they want us to beleive is that if we lock more offendors up, and lock them up for longer times, that we won't have as much violent crime. But, of course the quoted statistics imply no such thing.

The full report can be found by following the links here.

The report itself isn't funded research, its not a policy analysis, it's just 12 pages of descriptive statistics with no analysis at all. It's just empty numbers presented as if they have meaning. And CNN fell for it.

Of course people who are convicted of violent crimes tend to have prior conviction records. That's becauause the ones accused of violent crimes who are actually prosecuted for those crimes are the ones who have prior convictions. Those without prior convictions will be more likely to be convicted of a misdimeanor on a plea bargin.

And it may be that 90% of those who are treated leniently if they don't have a prior conviction never commit another crime. That's perfectly consistent with what I saw of the data (maybe I missed something)

THe report is just meaningless drivel.


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