Monday, September 1, 2008
My new favorite web site comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which really overflows with great story material. Example: highly detailed information about individual county prosecutors' offices. http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Search/Prosecutors/index.cfm
So, in about five seconds flat, I find out that in Stanislaus County, Calif., prosecutors secured 89 felony convictions amid 4,856 closed felony cases. But just down the road in Fresno County, prosecutors secured 8,791 felony conviction amid 10,125 closed cases. Yo, city desk!
Or this: for a story detailing Laci and Conner's Law, making it a federal crime to harm a fetus, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/257/story/51153.html, I discover that no federal prosecutions have taken place in the four years since President Bush signed the law. Raises questions, one might think carmudgeonly, about the necessity of the law. Niftily -- adverb overload alert! -- the BJS site allows you to track prosecution statistics by U.S. Code title and section. http://fjsrc.urban.org/analysis/t_sec/stat.cfm
Assignment: find an obscure criminal statute and track its use...