Fellow watchdog reporter Vallery Brown and I wrote a couple of days ago about statistics published by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those numbers showed real clearly that the Oklahoma County jail had the highest homicide rate. What the methodology of the study did not show is how the rate was determined. The formula — deaths/average daily population X 100,000 skewed the numbers a bit for smaller jails, even the study’s author admitted.
Since then, even more problems have surfaced with the study. Today, The Tennessean in Nashville offered a story about how authorities in Davidson County, Tenn., and San Diego County, Calif., also believe the numbers are not only skewed but just plain wrong.
Those two counties have similar complaints of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department published in The Oklahoman and NewsOK.
Part of the problem, from a reporter’s standpoint and for just about anyone else interested, is that when the DOJ released the results of its number crunching it did not also release the raw data it crunched. Nobody wants to replicate the whole study, but it certainly would be good to be able to verify the parts were interested in reporting.