The Fundamentals of Statistics
The initial phase of statistical analysis in criminal justice starts with the collection of statistical information about the nature of crimes, criminals and the criminal justice system. This essay provides the insight to the methods for the data collection in criminal justice. Generally, the techniques of gathering information are defined in the theory of statistics, but have some deviations with respect to the field of research.
The most frequently used method in criminal justice is the formal survey. This technique is a study that gets data from sample group of people, in order to estimate their reaction or attribution to some events. For instance, household surveys, the annual surveys of jails, the survey on sexual violence and victimization statistical surveys, which rely upon individual honesty and therefore may be biased.
The second method of collection data includes the use of archival data from criminal justice records. This data may help to draw connections among the crime series and reveal some essential details about violators.
The third technique is the use of official statistics in criminology. In the U.S. such data can be found in FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) or the U.S. Census Bureau.
Another source of information is an experiment, a controlled study where the researcher tries to understand cause-and-effect relationships. This method is not widely used in criminal justice, however in some cases the organization of control and experimental groups may help in investigation.
The fifth method includes direct observations and informal interviews. The researcher here also attempts to find cause-and-effect relationships, but he is not able to control how subjects are appointed to groups and which treatments each group gets.
In conclusion, it is important to mention that no perfect way of measuring crime and no possible mean to record how much crime is committed at any particular time under any jurisdiction exist. Nonetheless, criminologists always attempt to draw the statistical measures of crime in the society. Thus, the criminal justice uses statistical data to conduct researches in criminal cases and to give quantitative measures of crimes on a timely basis.
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