1932

Abstract

Crime is costly, yet we understand little about it. The United States justice system costs $280 billion per year, but compared to other areas, such as medicine and agriculture, we have few answers for the field's fundamental questions, like what causes crime and how we can best use our justice system to respond to it. In addition, the success or failure of the justice system impacts our safety, freedoms, and trust in government. Criminologists are working to bridge this gap in knowledge using methods that are fundamentally statistical, including randomized designs, case-control studies, instrumental variables, and natural experiments. This review discusses how criminologists explore the police, courts, sentencing, and communities and their effect on crime using daylight saving time, natural disasters, coding errors, quirks in funding formulas, and other phenomena to simulate randomization. I include analyses of racial bias, police shootings, public defense, parolees, graffiti, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings. This review should encourage statisticians to bring their methods and expertise to bear on criminological questions, as the field needs broader and deeper scientific examination.

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2019-03-07
2024-05-23
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