Friday, August 21, 2015

Recidivism in Whatcom County Jail Bookings Records : 1/1/2011 - 7/1/2015

29,637 Bookings for Whatcom County Jail covering the 4.5 year period from 1/1/2011 to 7/1/2015. The vertical axis represents 17,256 unique names. 5,314 of those unique names had multiple bookings for the period with a range of 2  -  22 bookings per individual. Each unique name receives a random color for their bookings. See an animation of this chart here. See R code here. See notes on data/methodology at end. Click on the Charts to enlarge. 

This post discusses recidivism in Whatcom County jail. Recidivism is a primary concern for law and justice and  citizens. The bottom line on 'recidivism' is this: so many re-offend at such high rates that some criminology professors fundamentally doubt whether imprisonment has any significant effect on prohibiting crime.  Literature on this subject is abundant[1,2,3,4].  Some of us have come to the conclusion that imprisonment itself is the primary cause of recidivism; a counter intuitive analysis that has little political chance of wide scale adoption. I am looking at 'booking recidivism' or booking 'return buckets' in Whatcom County over the 4.5 year period from 1/1/2011 to 7/1/2015. (e.g. How many times a user is "booked" in that period.  For this definition of recidivism, I am counting multiple bookings or returns to jail per individual (user).   These aren't necessarily convictions. What I describe are 'return buckets' to our jail. Here are granular views at the 'return buckets' by user booking counts for these 4.5 years.  Click to enlarge chart.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Predicting Crime, Day of Rembrance, Bellingham Racial Justice Commission

Crime and justice issues on board for Sunday and Monday:

There will be a day of remembrance for Mike Brown tomorrow (Sunday) at 5:30 in Cornwall Park. This was also announced in the Herald.

On August 10th, Monday the Bellingham Police will have a hearing on the use of Bair Analytics predictive software. There will be a rally created by the Bellingham Racial Justice Commmission beforehand.

I've created some graphs and tables from 89 days of data from COB summaries. Predictive software uses existing data to predict where crime will happen. There has been some lively discussion about the use of predictive software and racial profiling. Here are the articles I found most interesting in researching predictive policing:

Below is a three month look at crime high points and locations in Bellingham. There were 5533 Offense summaries for those 89 days. I created some tables and charts to summarize that volume. Code for this post is here. Click on charts to enlarge. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Race and Incarceration in Whatcom County and WA.

"The hypersegregation of the black poor in ghetto communities has made the roundup easy. Confined to ghetto areas and lacking political power, the black poor are convenient targets. ... The enduring racial isolation of the ghetto poor has made them uniquely vulnerable in the War on Drugs. What happens to them does not directly affect—and is scarcely noticed by—the privileged beyond the ghetto’s invisible walls. Thus it is here, in the poverty-stricken, racially segregated ghettos, where the War on Poverty has been abandoned and factories have disappeared, that the drug war has been waged with the greatest ferocity. SWAT teams are deployed here; buy-and-bust operations are concentrated here; drug raids of apartment buildings occur here; stop-and-frisk operations occur on the streets here. Black and brown youth are the primary targets.[emphasis added -RMF]"  -Michelle Alexander "The New Jim Crow" 

Is Whatcom county a racist county in a racist state? I won't pretend to have the complete answer in this post.  I do know that something Bellingham and Lynden (two of Whatcom County's biggest cities) have in common, is that you can often spend the whole day downtown in either without ever noticing a person of color! And that makes it somehow very different from where my wife and I grew up in Oakland, CA.  This post will examine the county jails of WA and question whether or not racial bias is a part of Whatcom County and Washington's law and justice system.  Below is a table of WA state jails and their counts of  Total Population, Average Daily Jail Populations of 'People of Color'  (not white) and the all white populations of those 39 WA counties. City and regional jail data is appended  with no additional population data.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An Analysis of Whatcom County Jail Press Releases: Word Counts, Word Clouds, Relational Graphs,Criminogenic Cycles

Above: A word cloud capturing the most frequent terms (greater than 1000 mentions) of the The Whatcom County Jail Press Releases for  the past 4.5 years. In a word cloud analysis, a larger font equals higher term frequency. Click to enlarge all charts.

The data below in this first part of this post comes from the collected booking records of the Whatcom County Inmate Database: Press Releases. I looked at the collected records of  previous 4.5 years of this data to help me answer these questions:

  • Why are citizens being booked into Whatcom County Jail?
  • Who is being booked into Whatcom County Jail?
R code for this post: [1,2]

Bookings are not necessarily  representative of arrests nor convictions. Conceptually, bookings are the subset in between these three terms such that Arrests > Bookings > Convictions. I used simple term counting with some normalization, text mining, word cloud analysis, and graph analysis to show relationships and frequencies. My web query routines weren't perfect enough to prevent some small amount of missing data.  The terms used to describe the data and the format of those terms varied some from year to year as well. A sample of the collected raw data  for 4.5 years looks like this: