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NCJ Number: 72575 Find in a Library
Title: Enforcement Workshop - Defining Arrests - The Practical Consequences of Agency Differences (Part Two)
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:16  Issue:5  Dated:(September-October 1980)  Pages:468-471
Author(s): L W Sherman
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 4
Type: Statistics
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Inconsistent operational definitions of juvenile and adult arrests across law enforcement agencies are documented, and some statistical implications of this finding are discussed.
Abstract: The first part of this two-part series reviewed the ambiguities in legal definitions of arrest across law enforcement agencies and traced this problem to the early instructions for the Uniform Crime Reports. This part examines the practical implications of this finding. First, differing arrest definitions make productivity comparisons between agencies impossible. Those departments that screen heavily before an arrest is counted will tend to have higher rates of productivity than departments that consider superficial contacts between law enforcement personnel and citizens as arrest. Further, court statistics on case 'fallout' are heavily dependent on how arrests are defined. The prosecutors' conviction rate in Detroit, for example, is probably much higher on a per-arrests basis than the Denver prosecutors' rate, but the difference may be largely due to the broader definition of arrest used by the Denver police. The use of arrest records to decide the fate of suspects, defendants, sentenced convicts, parolees, and probationers is the most important implication for differing operational definitions of arrest. Differences in arrest definitions raise a Fourteenth Amendment issue wherever some people are treated more harshly because they have a more extensive arrest record if that record is longer than it would be if they resided in a jurisdiction using a less inclusive definition of arrest. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Arrest records; Arrest statistics; Data collections; Statistical analysis; Testing and measurement
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