Mathematics in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice statistics that are available in government databases and reports are relevant for policy research, planning, and analysis. Statistics provide a general picture of society and the institutions that deal with crime. It also aids in analyzing how particular segments of society are affected by crime in order to provide baseline information on what government institutions can do about it. For instance, the U.S. corrections system can be taken as a microcosm of society because crime reflects social context and social realities which can be provide meaningful information for researchers and policy-makers.

Criminal justice statistics is relevant in my proposed study on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and the cost of their incarceration and deportation. Through statistics, I can analyze the past and present situation of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Further, through the available information that I can find about undocumented immigrant crime, I can ascertain the direction of my research proposal and make recommendations on how to proceed in terms of concept and method. After searching the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics online, I was able to build initial assumptions and make personal recommendations to the direction of my research so far.

The general perception in American regarding crimes related to illegal immigration is almost unanimous that illegal immigrants are to be blamed for increasing crime rates (Chavez, 2001). The stereotypes attached to illegal or undocumented immigrants have not changed since the phenomenon of mass immigration in 1990s. Given the renewed security threats in America  terrorism, narcoterrorism, and fundamentalism from overseas  there is the immediate suspicion when it comes to illegal immigrants. Further, the escalating costs of illegal immigration have become a major policy concern of the government. My main research problems were

What is the prevalence of crime committed by undocumented or illegal immigrants
What are the costs associated with their detention and eventual deportation
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there has been an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants detained in variously facilities across the country. In 1995, there were a total of 8,177 undocumented immigrants detained in 2000, there were 19,515 in 2001, there were 19,137 in 2002, there were 21,065 in 2003, there were 23,514 in 2004, there were 19,057 in 2005, there were 19,562 in 2006, there were  27,634 in 2006, there were 30, 341 and in 2008, there were 34, 161. Over a one-year period from 2007 to 2008, the number of detained illegal immigrants rose by 12.3 percent. Since 1995 to 2008, then, the number of illegal immigrants detained increased nearly 400 percent. Given this statistic, it could be assumed that the costs associated with crimes committed by illegal immigrants have also increased (Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2008).

When I searched for crime statistics of undocumented immigrants however, I found that statistics provided by the government did not particularly detail them according to immigration status. However, available statistics tend to suggest that crime incidence was highly disproportionate and that majority of the crimes were committed by White U.S. citizens. Statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons also suggest the prevalence of incarceration among non-US citizens. In 2009, 73.6 of the number of prisoners were U.S. citizens 17.6 were Mexican citizens 1.4 were Colombian 0.9 were Cuban 1.4 were Dominicans, and 5.1 of uncertain nationalities. Thirty two percent were Hispanic in origin, 30.3 were black, and 57.2 were White (Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2007).

My statistical research has led me to realize significant points about my research topic. First, statistics pertaining to undocumented immigrant crime would be difficult to retrieve since government databases do not categorize crime incidence by immigration status. This problem has been echoed by researchers of related topics (Rumbaut, 2008). Second, the statistics I obtained regarding the number of incarcerated undocumented immigrants has substantiated the need to explore deeper how much U.S. taxpayers are paying for the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants.

Although criminal justice statistics are considered secondary data (Fox et al., 2008) because they were gathered first-hand by other researchers with dissimilar purposes and objectives in mind, they have proven to be helpful in building an initial framework to develop further. They have also hinted at possible methodological considerations particularly on how to look for data regarding crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.


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