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Title: The Uncounted: Impacts of Regional Political Culture on Arrest-Related Death Statistics in the United States, 2004-2009
Authors: Gollin, Maxwell
Advisors: Lee, Melissa
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: To date, no citizen- or government-led data collection effort has obtained a complete count of the number of people that die during the process of arrest each year in the United States. Previous studies have compared data coverage of arrest-related deaths across various government efforts and established that faulty data collection strategies partly explain gaps between CDC, FBI, and Department of Justice data. However, none have compared arrest-related death data gathered by the government to arrest-related death data gathered by a non-governmental body, and few studies have explored non-methodological explanations for discrepancies between datasets. To gain a sense of the coverage gaps between government and non-governmental efforts, this thesis first assesses differences in data coverage between the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths Program and the independent Fatal Encounters project from 2004 to 2009 and finds that states in the Deep South reported significantly fewer deaths to the BJS than to Fatal Encounters during this period, suggesting a large undercount by the BJS in that region. This thesis evaluates the hypothesis that the BJS’ regional pattern of undercounting arrest-related deaths was due to regional variation in political culture in the form of trust in government and support for use of force by police. Law enforcement agencies in regions with lower trust in government and higher support for the use of force by police officers are less likely to voluntarily report deaths to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, resulting in undercounting throughout the region. This analysis found that when compared to other cultural regions, states in the Deep South had the lowest historical trust in government, the highest support for police use of force, and the most severe underreporting of arrest-related deaths to the BJS. The study concludes that future data collection efforts by the BJS should account for cultural resistance to voluntary reporting by law enforcement in the Deep South by building relationships of reciprocal trust with law enforcement agencies in the region.
Extent: 83 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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