Skip to main content# Research Exercises

# Background

# Purpose

# Instructions for Completing Research Exercises

## Crime Exercise

## Arrest Exercise

## Sentencing Exercise

## Prison Exercise

Published onAug 07, 2020

Research Exercises

There are four exercises in the course. Each pertains to one of the four major sections of the course (Criminal Law and Crime, Law Enforcement, Courts, Corrections). The exercises make use of four different data analysis tools found on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ website. As explained on that website, the BJS is

[T]he United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics. [Its mission is to] collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded.

Exercises are a great way to learn about criminal justice but also develop and practice skills that area applicable to a variety of careers. The purpose of this assignment is to:

Use BJS data analysis cutting tools

Analyze data with BJS data analysis cutting tools

As noted at the top, you will complete four research exercises, each pertaining to one of the major sections of the course. For each research exercise, you will be introduced to a different BJS data analysis cutting tool. These exercises are titled as follows: Crime Exercise; Arrest Exercise; Sentencing Exercise; and Prison Exercise. See course schedule for which is due when.

Instructions for each of the four exercises are below. To complete the assignment, you should read what is below thoroughly. Therein, you are provided a link to a particular data analysis cutting tool. You will click the provided link and follow the instructions, which tell you how to gather the data you need to answer a series of questions. Once you have answered all the questions, you are ready to submit your work.

**Submission: **To submit your research exercise, find the quiz by the same name in D2L and enter your answers therein. There is no time limit on the quiz.

**Entering in Answers: **If you want a good grade, the following is very important. Only include whole numbers; this may require rounding up or down (standard rounding rules apply).

Do not include anything other than the number (i.e., no commas, percent symbols, periods or anything else) and make sure the number is whole (i.e., don’t have anything behind the decimal point), which may require rounding up or down (standard rounding rules apply). If you don’t follow that instruction, your answer is wrong. For example: if the exact answer is 4,100.5, then when entering the answer on D2L you should put “4101”,not“4,100.5”, “4100.5” or “4,101”. I know this is very particular, but it’s needed due to the technological limitations of D2L.

**Grading: **Submissions will be automatically graded and entered into the grade book.

In this exercise, you will gain experience using the BJS’s “NCVS Victimization Analysis Tool” (go to http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nvat).[1] As explained on the website’s home page, “This dynamic analysis tool allows you to examine National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data on both violent and property victimization by select victim, household, and incident characteristics.”

All of the answers to the following questions can be found by examining the information on its “Custom Graphics” page. Your task is to explore that page to find the answers.

The “Custom Graphics” page splits all victimization into two major types: “personal victimization” and “property crime victimization”. To answer the following questions, click on “Person” and “Property” next to “Crime Category.” Then select the down arrow under “Crime Type.”

1. Personal victimization includes which crimes?

2. Property crime victimization includes which crimes?

The two broad types of personal victimization are “violent victimization” and “personal theft/larceny victimization.” *To answer questions related to “violent victimization” be sure to uncheck “Violent crime excluding simple assault.”* To get totals, you need to select “Number” next to “Unit.” To get the year 2018, click the down arrow under “Year” underneath Data Filter Settings.

3. In 2018, what was the total number of violent victimizations?

4. In 2018, which type of violent victimization was most common?

5. In 2018, which type of violent victimization was least common?

6. In 2018, what was the total number of theft/larceny victimizations?

Now that you know the total amounts of violent victimization and personal theft/larceny victimization, you are able to calculate the amount of all personal victimization. The total amount of personal victimization is the total amount of violent victimization plus the total amount of personal theft/larceny victimization.

7. In 2018, what was the total number of personal victimizations?

As already noted, the two major categories of all victimization are personal victimization and property crime victimization. The prior questions focused on the former. Now focus on property crime victimization. Be sure to change “Crime Category” to “Property.” To get totals, you need to select “Number” next to “Unit.” To get the year 2018, click the down arrow under “Year” underneath Data Filter Settings.

8. In 2018, what was the total number of property victimizations?

9. In 2018, which type of property victimization was most common?

10. In 2018, which type of property victimization was least common?

Now that you know the total amounts of personal victimization and property victimization, you are able to calculate the amount of all victimization. To be clear, the total amount of all victimization is the total amount of personal victimization plus the total amount of property victimization.

11. In 2018, what was the total number of all victimizations?

[1] A similar tool is based on the Uniform Crime Reports. See http://www.bjs.gov/ucrdata/.

In this exercise, you will learn (if you don’t already know) how to calculate rates, and gain experience using the BJS’s “Arrest Data Analysis Tool” (go to http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=datool&surl=/arrests/index.cfm). As explained on the website’s home page, “This dynamic data analysis tool allows you to generate tables and graphs of arrests from 1980 onward. You can view national arrest estimates, customized either by age and sex or by age group and race, for many different offenses. This tool also enables you to view local arrests.”

All of the answers to the following questions can be found by examining the information on its Agency-Level Counts page, more specifically the information under the Annual Tables tab.

To find out about arrest, you need to choose a particular state, agency, year, and table. For this exercise, you should choose Georgia, Atlanta Police Dept, 2014, and Offense By Age and Race. Once you have done so, click Generate Results. When looking at the table and answering the following questions, focus on the total for persons of all ages.

1. How many arrests were there for murder and non-negligent manslaughter?

2. How many arrests were there for vandalism?

3. How many arrests were there for robbery?

4. How many arrests were there for aggravated assault?

5. How many arrests were there for burglary?

6. How many arrests were there for larceny-theft?

7. How many arrests were there for motor vehicle theft?

8. How many arrests were there for arson?

Now that you know the number of arrests for those offenses, you are able to calculate the arrest rate, which is the total number of arrests per a certain number of persons in the population. For this exercise, you will use the above answers to determine the arrest rate per 100,000 persons in Atlanta. This involves simple math. The first step is to divide the number of arrests for each offense type by 420,000, which was about the population of Atlanta in 2012. Second, multiple that number by 100,000. That number will be your answer. (For example, there were a total of 35,439 offenses in Atlanta. To get the rate of offenses in Atlanta per 100,000 people, you would divide 35,439 by 420,000 and then multiple that number by 100,000. Once you round up, you have calculated the answer to be 8438; that is the right answer.)

9. What is the arrest rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

10. What is the arrest rate for vandalism per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

11. What is the arrest rate for robbery per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

12. What is the arrest rate for aggravated assault per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

13. What is the arrest rate for burglary per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

14. What is the arrest rate for larceny-theft per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

15. What is the arrest rate for motor vehicle theft per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

16. What is the arrest rate for arson per 100,000 people in Atlanta?

In this exercise, you will learn (if you don’t already know) how to calculate percentages, and gain experience using the BJS’s “Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics” (go to http://www.bjs.gov/fjsrc/index.cfm). As explained on the website’s home page, “The Bureau of Justice Statistics, through its Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center (FJSRC), compiles comprehensive information describing suspects and defendants processed in the federal criminal justice system. The Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics (FCCPS) tool is an interface that can be used to analyze federal case processing data. Users can generate various statistics in the areas of federal law enforcement, prosecution/courts and incarcerations, and based on title and section of the U.S. Criminal Code. Data are available for the years from 1998 to 2016. This tool includes offenders held for violating federal laws. It excludes commitments from the D.C. Superior Court.”

All of the answers to the following questions can be found by going to the main webpage (see above) and then clicking on the “trends” option for “Offenders sentenced”, which is found under the “Prosecution/Courts” heading. Your task is to find the answers by following these instructions:

First, select 1998 to 2016 as the range of years.

Second, select “Type of sentence imposed” as the variable.

Third, make sure there is a checkmark next to “All values”.

Fourth, choose to display as “HTML” (or “PDF”), which will allow you to answer the following questions. (Note that this website is slow, so it may take some time to go to the next page.)

1. In 1998, what is the total number of offenders sentenced?

2. In 1998, how many offenders were sentenced to prison only?

3. In 1998, how many offenders were sentenced to probation only?

Now that you know the number of those sentences, you are able to calculate the percent of all sentences that are for prison only versus probation only. This involves simple math: divide the number of a particular sentence type (e.g., prison only or probation only) by the number of total sentences, and then multiple by 100. (For example, if there were a total of 10,000 sentences, and 1,000 of those were prison only, you would divide 1,000 by 10,000 and then multiple that by 100. You have calculated the answer to be 10; that is the right answer. However, if the numbers are different, you may have to round up or down as appropriate.)

4. In 1998, what percent of all sentenced offenders were sentenced to prison only?

5. In 1998, what percent of all sentenced offenders were sentenced to probation only?

In the same table you already generated (see steps 1-4), you should also see statistics for 2016.

6. In 2016, what is the total number of offenders sentenced?

7. In 2016, how many offenders were sentenced to prison only?

8. In 2016, how many offenders were sentenced to probation only?

9. In 2016, what percent of all sentenced offenders were sentenced to prison only?

10. In 2016, what percent of all sentenced offenders were sentenced to probation only?

In this exercise, you will continue to calculate percentages, and gain experience using the BJS’s “Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool - Prisoners” (go to https://csat.bjs.ojp.gov/advanced-query).[1] As explained on the website’s home page, “The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) compiles comprehensive information on persons sentenced to state and federal prisons, through the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) survey and the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP). BJS has made these data available through the CSAT-Prisoners tool, an interface that can generate various statistics, figures and maps on prison admissions, prison releases, and year-end prison populations between 1978 and 2019.”

All of the answers to the following questions can be found by examining the information on the above website. To do so, you will create a query of “Annual Counts.”

To find out about imprisonment, you need to choose a particular jurisdiction, year (or years), and population. For this exercise, first you should choose “Annual Counts” under Query Type. Then, select “Admissions,” which refers to people who have been sent to prison in a given year. Next, for Variable 1 select “Total Number of Admissions.” For jurisdiction and year, choose Georgia, 2016. Once you have done so, click Submit. Repeat this process, but this time for Variable 1 select “Total Number of Admissions by Type.” For Variable 2, you will select “New Court Commitments.” (Note: Basically, “new court commitments” are people who are admitted into prison because of a recent conviction rather than another reason, such as a parole violation. Finally, you will follow same process but select “Parole Violators.”

1. How many total admissions were there in Georgia in 2016?

2. How many of the total admissions in Georgia in 2016 were new court commitments?

3. How many of the total admissions in Georgia in 2016 were parole violators?

Now that you know the number of those admissions, you are able to calculate the percent of all admissions that are for new court commitments versus parole violators. This involves simple math: divide the number of a particular admission type (e.g., new court commitment or parole violator) by the number of total admissions, and then multiple by 100. (For example, if there were a total of 10,000 admissions, and 1,000 of those were parole violators, you would divide 1,000 by 10,000 and then multiple that by 100. You have calculated the answer to be 10; that is the right answer. However, if the numbers are different, you may have to round up or down as appropriate.)

4. New court commitments were what percent of total (i.e., all) admissions in Georgia in 2016?

5. Parole violators were what percent of total (i.e., all) admissions in Georgia in 2016?

In the same table you already generated for Georgia, 2016, you should also see national characteristics (i.e., U.S. total). To answer the following questions, you should select “National” for the jurisdiction.

6. How many total admissions were there in the U.S. in 2016?

7. How many of the total admissions in the U.S. in 2016 were new court commitments?

8. How many of the total admissions in the U.S. in 2016 were parole violators?

Now that you know the number of those admissions, you are able to calculate the percent of all admissions in the U.S. that occur in Georgia. This involves the same math as above, except now divide the number of total admissions in Georgia by the number of total admissions in the U.S., and then multiple by 100.

9. What percent of all admissions in the U.S. in 2016 occurred in Georgia?

[1] A similar tool may also be used for parole and probation. See, respectively, http://www.bjs.gov/parole/ and http://www.bjs.gov/probation/.