1 in 5 prisoners had Covid-19, a grid map

The Marshall Project and The Associated Press report on the Covid-19 rates in prison, which are multiple times greater than the general population. Katie Park shows the regional variation with this cross between a dot density map and a grid map.

They’ve made the data available here.

Tags: , , ,

Coronavirus cases rising in prisons

Coronavirus cases are rising (again), which includes prisoners and prison staff. The Marshall Project has been tracking cases since March and provides a state-by-state rundown:

New infections this week rose sharply to their highest level since the start of the pandemic, far outpacing the previous peak in early August. Iowa, Michigan and the federal prison system each saw more than 1,000 prisoners test positive this week, while Texas prisons surpassed 2,000 new cases.

Tags: , ,

Trump’s criminal justice ad spending on Facebook

The Marshall Project contrasted ad spending on Facebook by Trump’s campaign against Joe Biden’s:

Our analysis found that of the $82 million Trump’s reelection campaign has spent on Facebook ads this year, $6.6 million paid for ads about crime and policing—a top focus of his Facebook campaign. Almost all of it came since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May. More than one-third of those ad buys were aimed at key battleground states and many sought to persuade specific undecided voters, and married women in particular. The Biden campaign? It didn’t spend a cent on criminal justice ads on Facebook until late August, choosing instead to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery. Yet Biden had, during the Democratic primaries, articulated a more progressive criminal justice platform than any of his party’s recent nominees.

Tags: , , ,

Excess deaths, by race

It’s clear that Covid-19 has affected groups differently across the United States. By geography. By education level. By income. The Marshall Project breaks down excess deaths by race:

Earlier data on cases, hospitalizations and deaths revealed the especially heavy toll on Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, a disparity attributed to unequal access to health care and economic opportunities. But the increases in total deaths by race were not reported until now; nor was the disproportionate burden of the disease on Asian Americans.

With this new data, Asian Americans join Blacks and Hispanics among the hardest-hit communities, with deaths in each group up at least 30 percent this year compared with the average over the last five years, the analysis found. Deaths among Native Americans rose more than 20 percent, though that is probably a severe undercount because of a lack of data. Deaths among Whites were up 9 percent.

Difference charts are used to show deaths above (red) or below (turquoise) normal counts, but of course, it’s mostly red.

See the piece for an additional categorization by state.

Tags: , ,

Flow of prison population

In a collaboration between The Marshall Project and The Upshot, Anna Flagg and Joseph Neff look at the flow in and out of jails and what that means during these times of social distancing:

Preventing the spread of the virus in jails is challenging. Social distancing is crucial, but it’s virtually impossible in dormitories with rows of beds in a common room. The same is true of two people in a single cell, or group showers or bathrooms that serve dozens. All these dangers escalate when jails are overcrowded, filthy or understaffed.

Tags: , , , , ,

The different trends in American crime

Crime trends in the US

Crime is up? Crime is down? It depends on who you ask and where. The Marshall Project analyzed violent crime trends over the past 40 years to show how things are moving across the country.

In the process, we were struck by the wide variation from community to community. To paraphrase an aphorism about politics, all crime is local. Each city has its own trends that depend on the characteristics of the city itself, the time frame, and the type of crime. In fact, the trends vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities; a recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of the crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live.

They eventually narrowed down trends to four main categories, across 68 cities.

Don’t see what you’re looking for. The data is available for download.

Tags: ,

Predictive policing

Predictive policing

Crime and data have an old history together, but because there are new methods of collection and analysis these days, there are new decisions to make. The Marshall Project, in collaboration with the Verge, looks at the current state of predictive policing and the social issues that surround it.

As predictive policing has spread, researchers and police officers have begun exploring how it might contribute to a version of policing that downplays patrolling — as well as stopping, questioning, and frisking — and focuses more on root causes of particular crimes. Rutgers University researchers specializing in “risk terrain modeling” have been using analysis similar to HunchLab to work with police on “intervention strategies.” In one Northeast city, they have enlisted city officials to board up vacant properties linked to higher rates of violent crime, and to advertise after-school programming to kids who tend to gather near bodegas in high-risk areas.

Of course, then there's the whole action-reaction stuff. More time required.

Tags: , ,

Human side of executions

Cumulative executions

There are ample records of executions in the United States, but looking at them through the data lens can feel disconnected and horribly robotic. In a more humanized view of the subject, The Next to Die by the Marshall Project provides context for those next scheduled for execution.

On one side, a person is scheduled to die. On the other, the person did horrible things. It's complex and the project doesn't try to sway opinions one way or the other, but it does provide a view into what's happening, along with a historical view of states and their laws.

Tags: ,

Criminal sentencing and a stat lesson on probabilities and uncertainty

Who should get parole?

Pennsylvania is considering the use of risk assessment — the chances that someone will commit a crime in the future — in criminal sentencing. Risk assessment is already used in every state to some regard, so why not extend the concept? FiveThirtyEight and The Marshall Project look at the WTF-ness of this question.

It's worth reading the full feature, but two interactives that help understand the statistics is of special interest here.

The first, shown above, simulates parole judgements based on the risk thresholds you choose. On the left, the population of parole-eligible prisoners appears. Each small bubble represents a person. Moving on to step two, each person is marked as some level of risk. The high risk people are denied parole in the third step. Set the thresholds high, and most people are denied parole but more people who end up never committing another crime stay in prison. Set the thresholds high, and you end up with more people getting parole but more who reoffend.

What's the right balance?

The second interactive shows how bias towards race and class are embedded in risk assessment, even though there aren't any direct questions about these things. Check off boxes as if you were making an assessment, and you get distributions of blacks, Hispanic, and low-income populations.

So it's an important topic explained bolstered by a statistics lesson. Read it.

Tags: , , , ,