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I should have said "low" crime rates. "Good" was definitely ambiguous!!
As the converse of that, I suppose my county's place at the bottom of that list can only be taken to suggest that I prosecute about as well as I play guitar and sing.
Its funny how easily we dismiss the statistics showing linking lead poisoning to criminal behavior compared with how easily we believe the statistics for crime rates in various counties.
How was the crime data calculated?
The answer to that question matters because in many cases there is more than one criminal offense that could be alleged.
Does every jurisdiction pursue an indictment and conviction for every possible charge? More likely each county has a slightly different policy for determining which charges to pursue, which to hold back for plea leverage, and which to dismiss. Even if the policies were the same then there is a variable human element.
There are lots of possibilities for skewing the data depending on how it is collected.
Obviously, no slam was intended toward your fine county or your prosecution abilities. If you do prosecute as well as you sing/play guitar/lead a band, then sir, you should be prosecutor of the decade.
Just my two cents! By the way, the eloquent and well-grounded statements made earlier in this thread by you put your breathren to shame. You are a silver tongue devil. I bet juries just melt when you are lead counsel for the Great State of Texas!
Makes me think of a funny skit someone sent me in which the town of allopah determined that all of their accidents were caused by skidmarks.
Funny Skit (long)
(* disclaimer- I have no association with the underlying cause here, and I just thought of this thread because I view them on the same day)
No offense was taken, and you are far too kind. Unleaded gasoline has been off the market here as long as it's been unavailable elsewhere in the Great State, yet our statistics (whether influenced by a multiple-charge philosophy or simple demographics) are consistently high. We file any charge that reasonably appears to have a good shot at a conviction, unless compelling extenuating circumstances bring our art. 2.01 obligation into play. When they go to trial, we win some, and we lose some. Indeed, we're occasionally chided by one of our judges about taking too many cases, since "they're only misdemeanors." But we have plenty of offenders young enough that lead exposure is -- with respect to our docket -- a questionable causative, or contributing, factor. I would be much more amenable to accepting poverty as a significant driver in our crime rate than lead. Of course, we are only 25 miles from where a major part of our nation's nuclear warheads are assembled and disassembled.
With all that said, I don't really think anyone is blithely dismissing the abstract idea that external exposure to certain compounds may have some impact on behavioral processes. What I believe we are seeing in this thread is the skepticism born from years of seeing different scientific and psychological theories shoe-horned into defenses to responsibility for one's actions. We all want our viewpoint vindicated immediately. However, the justice system, like the scientific method, relies on critical challenges to hypotheses in order to glean the ultimate objective answer.
But you are right, Alex. Statistics often can be made to serve the purpose du joir being peddled by the offeror. Much like the statistics that support studies. Remember the old saw about the three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.
Here is a key difference between the "lead paint/gasoline" hypothesis and the crime statistics proffered by Mr. Bradley:
To get the crime statistics, you take the census figures for each county and the number of crimes that are reported in a year. Both those numbers are concrete data based on actual counts of people and crime reports.
To get the "lead paint/gasoline" hypothesis, you go chew on an old crib rail and sniff some regular gas, if you can find an old can around somewhere.
The statistics for crime rates comes from two sources: the US Census Report and the DPS annual Crime in Texas report. The DPS crime stats are based on the Uniform Crime Reporting program, which is a national effort to provide reliable crime rate numbers. There are uniform classifications and procedures for reporting the information. The Texas version of the program began in 1976.
Police agencies report index crimes. Over 1,000 Texas law enforcement agencies participate in the reports.
The DPS report is available in a bound volume every year. The media often writes stories based on the stats released in that report.
We mustn't forget that sometimes people massage the numbers to make crime rates look low--suspicious person makes you look much better than attempted robbery. There was some media on funky crime numbers four or five years back. You can play it both ways--over report an incident, and you can argue for more officers, under report and incident to make it look like you are doing a great job.
[This message was edited by JohnR on 07-14-07 at .]
Seems like someone may have been reading us:
Exclusive: Correcting reports to FBI could reduce Dallas' crime ranking
Dallas police say that they have incorrectly reported crimes to the FBI for years and that doing their math right may knock the city off its perch as the most crime-ridden major city in America.
I don’t buy that you can assert that the sole reason for criminal behavior is “free will” and dismiss any other possible factors. If that were in fact true, then you would find rates of criminal behavior to be the same over all socioeconomic strata. The reality is that crime rates are much higher in lower socioeconomic areas. This leads to two possible conclusions. Either people who are born into lower SES families are innately criminally disposed and people born into higher SES families are not, or there are other factors that can influence the likelihood that someone will engage in criminal behavior.
The study that started this whole thread dealt with one possible factor. I don’t think you can say that lead exposure with it’s possible affect on impulse control is the sole factor in explaining criminal behavior, but I don’t think you can dismiss it out of hand as one possible factor. I agree that ultimately, an individual is responsible for the consequences of his or her behavior. However, I also think that it is possible to identify factors that influence whether or not a person is more or less likely to be a criminal.
Can outside influences fully explain criminal behavior? Of course not. You are always going to have the kid from the bad neighborhood who had everything stacked against him that still makes good. You are also going to have the kid from the wealthy family who had every advantage who ends up being a violent felon. I do think, however, that things such as socio-economic status, lack of family stability, exposure to violence, unemployment, and drug and alcohol abuse can impact crime rates.
As an unabashed liberal in a decidedly conservative profession, I know that I am in the minority here. But I believe that if you can identify those environmental factors that influence the potential for criminal behavior and take steps to address those factors, you can have an impact on crime rates. However, there is no panacea. You are never going to eliminate crime altogether.
Nonetheless, I don’t think our only focus should be on hammering everyone that walks into the courthouse. Clearly, there are going to be those who need to be sent away for as long as possible. But, maybe, just maybe, there are those who can actually learn from their mistakes, alter their behavior, and end up being productive members of our society. And maybe there are things that we can do, as a community, to keep some of those folks from entering the criminal justice system in the first place.
JFL, I agree with you that many things affect a propensity to break the law. But some people still CHOOSE to break the law and some don't. That is the only part of it that can be affected by outside influences--consequences for actions. I don't believe in max consequences for every bad choice, but I do believe in personal responsibility--on a case by case basis.
Society as a whole cannot eradicate poverty, bad parenting, or lack of education. Those are cultural and family issues that are not chosen by the individual and can only be affected by individual choices (horse to water maxim). We are a rich nation with a federal government that hands out a lot of money. Even if everyone in the country had a certain amount of money to live on every year, there would still be those who chose to steal what other people had. For whatever reason or no reason, it is still stealing. If every man in America was handed a lifetime companion, some men would still choose to rape other women. It's always about individual choices.
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