Originally aired on June 21, 2023
In this episode of the Wondros podcast, journalist and data scientist Thomas Hargrove discusses the lack of comprehensive data on murders in the United States, and how his organization is suing the federal government over their failure to report murders as mandated by law. He also talks about his algorithm for identifying serial killers and the connection between procedural justice and a surge in unsolved murders.
What is causing the recent surge in murders in the United States?
- The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer was the spark that ignited the surge in murders
- The spike occurred exactly in the week of Floyd’s murder, and relates to the theory of procedural justice
What is procedural justice and how does it relate to unsolved murders?
- Procedural justice is the criminological concept that when a growing number of people decide that the system is not procedurally fair, there becomes a growing suspicion that police are not legitimate
- This lack of legitimacy prompts people to take justice into their own hands, which leads to a surge in unsolved murders
Why doesn’t the United States keep comprehensive data on murders?
- There is no national database of murders in the United States
- The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report includes only those murders reported to the police, and is therefore incomplete
- There is no incentive for local police departments to report murders to the federal government.