Why are you linking to Wikipedia pages for these things? Link the freaking study, or don’t discuss it. It really isn’t that complicated. Do not try to make your post look more legit than it is. Do not do it. Links do not help your post if they are shitty links.
If sitting in a prison cell was a job, it would be one of the most common jobs in the United States. In 2012, there were some1,570,000 inmates in state and federal prisons in the U.S., according to data from the Justice Department.
By contrast, there were about 1,530,000 engineers in America last year, 815,000 construction workers, and 1 million high school teachers, according to theBureau of Labor Statistics.
This does not even include the amount of inmates incarcerated in jails, and is missing 3 states because they didn’t get their numbers in on time.
Something that is missing from this chart: This is the 3rd consecutive year that the prison population is decreasing. We are starting to see inmate populations level-off and decrease for the first time in decades.
Which states are in the extremes?
In 2012, states with the highest imprisonment rates included Louisiana (893 per 100,000 state residents), Mississippi (717 per 100,000 state residents), Alabama (650 per 100,000 state residents), Oklahoma (648 per 100,000 state residents), and Texas (601 per 100,000 state residents).
Maine had the lowest imprisonment rate among states (145 per 100,000 state residents), followed by Minnesota (184 per 100,000 state residents), and Rhode Island (190 per 100,000 state residents).
Who are the offenders? First and foremost, men. After that it gets complicated.
In 2011 (the most recent data available), the majority (53 percent) of sentenced state prisoners were serving time for a violent offense, including robbery (14 percent), murder or nonnegligent manslaughter (12 percent), rape or sexual assault (12 percent) and aggravated or simple assault (10 percent). About 18 percent were serving time for property offenses, 17 percent for drug crimes and 11 percent for public order offenses, such as weapon violations, drunk driving, commercialized vice and court offenses.
White prisoners comprised 35 percent of the 2011 state prison population, while black prisoners were 38 percent and Hispanics were 21 percent. The percentage of Hispanic inmates sentenced for violent offenses (58 percent) during 2011 exceeded that of non-Hispanic black (56 percent) and non-Hispanic white (49 percent) inmates, while the number of black inmates imprisoned for violent crimes (284,631) surpassed that of white (228,782) or Hispanic (162,489) inmates.
Probably not intentional, but there is a lot of new strong empirical research coming out that indicates a school-to-prison pipeline.
“This analysis challenges the standard methods of dividing up the country on the basis of economic factors, voting patterns, cultural stereotypes or geography that appear to have become ingrained in the way people think about the United States,” said lead author Peter J. Rentfrow, PhD, of the University of Cambridge. “At the same time, it reinforces some of the traditional beliefs that some areas of the country are friendlier than others, while some are more creative.”
The researchers analyzed the personality traits of more than 1.5 million people. Through various online forums/media (e.g., Facebook and survey panels), participants answered questions about their psychological traits and demographics, including their state of residence. The researchers identified three psychological profiles based on five broad dimensions of personality — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — also known as the “Big Five” personality traits. When the researchers overlaid the findings on a national map, they found certain psychological profiles were predominant in three distinct geographic areas. The data were collected over 12 years in five samples with participants from the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Overall, the samples were nationally representative in terms of gender and ethnicity, with the exception of a larger proportion of young people.
While I think this is is pretty interesting, I disagree with the statement I bolded in the first paragraph. It doesn’t challenge standard methods so much as it adds another dimension that researchers should account for in their models. Some caveats: 1) causality is not accounted for in their model, so the researchers are not able to distinguish whether the pre-established environment causes personality differences between regions or if personality creates the environment; 2) There is a large selection issue. People move, and frequently. Are people self-selecting into these regions? None of those issues are accounted for in the research.
So how accurate is this map?
Undergraduate and graduate students alike often suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues (1, 2). Many students move to new cities or countries to start their degree and thus lack social connections and support, commonly feel overwhelmed by teaching and research loads, and often have persistent fears of failure and inadequacy.
In one study of over 3,000 international graduate students, 44% said they had mental health issues that “significantly affected their well-being or academic performance” (3). In addition, these can lead to graver health concerns, most dramatically suicide, which, among college students across 10 universities, was found to be highest among graduate students (4).
You should hear the stories that circle amongst the graduate students. Very little attention is given to the mental health of graduate students, which are a unique group of college students with different workloads, personal issues, and stressors than undergraduates.
Click through for the citations.
The public view of murder is especially distorted. They see it as very elaborate or interesting, and as one of the most frequent crimes. But let’s look at reality. Murders are less than 1% of the eight Part I crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) (FBI, 2008).
Sherlock Holmes would have no interest whatever in most of the 16,929 murders reported in the United States for 2007 (FBI, 2008). Only 10 involved poison. Only 134 were by strangulation. Only 31 murders were classified as involving rape. Just 11 involved prostitution and commercialized vice. Gangland killings were tallied at 77. The largest category of murder circumstances is “miscellaneous arguments.” Murder is more likely to result from arguments over money or property than from romantic triangles, even if the latter make a better story."
In August, the RAND Corporation released a meta-analysis confirming what criminal justice researchers have been reporting for years: Educating people while they’re behind bars makes them a lot less likely to return to prison once they get out. Specifically, RAND found that inmates who participated in correctional education programs were 43 percent less likely to become repeat offenders than inmates who didn’t.
…Patrick [Research Director] is quick to point out that spending more on prison education means spending less money elsewhere. Not only are criminal justice costs reduced, but “you’re keeping people off public assistance by letting someone come home and make a living wage. You’re keeping people off Medicaid. You’re inspiring these people to care about things that other people care about.”
The Idealized Research Process
The last ask prompted me to pull out an old article. For anyone interested in social science research, read this chapter by one of my favorite researchers Carol Sansone at the University of Utah.
The Research Process: Of Big Pictures, Little Details, and the Social Psychological Road in Between.
The figure shows a process of research that is relatively linear, stagewise, and iterative.The process starts with our identifying the phenomena that we want to understand. We then generate specific questions and hypo- theses, as well as decide if these questions or hypotheses should be universal. We next operationalize our hypothesized constructs in some more concrete way that invoke important measurement principles, select an appropriate research design, analyze the results, and decide to what extent our initial hypotheses were sup- ported. Depending on the evidence we gather and our conclusions about the patterns in our data, we hope that we gain some increased understanding of our phenomena of interest— and probably have even more questions than when we began. We then cycle through the process again with revised questions or questions that arose as consequences of our research findings. At some point, we may con- verge at some broader set of conclusions, and in some cases we may shift our emphasis on a given question. Thus, over time, with empirical studies, samples, and methodologies, we gradually build a knowledge base about the phenomena—perhaps broad enough so that we can apply this knowledge to treat, change, or alleviate important social problems.
As seen over at The Tenured Radical
Thou shalt not rack up unnecessary credit card debt. You may need to take out student loans to pay for things like shelter, food, medical care and a decent laptop computer. But don’t take out loans to pay for things you bought just to make yourself feel better. Try to make a budget for yourself that includes fun and going out to dinner with friends, but not all kinds of stuff you will end up throwing away when you have to move. And just because it’s a book doesn’t mean you need to own it. One of the great weaknesses of academics is buying books they never get around to reading.
Thou shalt not neglect thy dental or health care. Every tooth of mine that gets worked on in middle age became a problem in graduate school. I am totally serious about this.
Thou shalt find an excellent thrift store. You will gradually build yourself a wardrobe of professional clothes (ok, if you are like me, you will build a wardrobe of black tee shirts) and you needn’t buy anything new. Go to the swanky neighborhoods near your university and buy the really nice things other people discarded. If you don’t know how to shop, get someone to teach you.
Thou shalt not assume that merit systems are determinative. If there is anything I hate seeing on the Interwebz, it is people claiming that the person who got the job/fellowship/prize isn’t as smart or deserving or credentialed as they are. It’s the, “Gee I wrote four articles and have a book contract, and *that* person only wrote one article and a review essay” syndrome. I always wonder, Hmmm….maybe you didn’t get the job because the other person was nicer. #Everthinkathat? Academic success is not about racking up points and head to head competition. It’s about other people making choices that you have no control over. Do your best work, and then let it go.
Thou shalt have an excellent professional back-up plan. Tape this to your mirror. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to learn things that will give you options if that dream job — or any tenure stream job — does not materialize. Things digital, things foundation oriented, things administrative. Yes, the Ph.D. program is designed to educate you, but this is the moment to educate yourself.
Thou shalt become an excellent colleague. Be generous with the others in your cohort. Look for people’s good sides and try to ignore their annoying qualities. And if you must, be honest with someone, whether it’s a hygiene issue or something that is just getting on your nerves. Beginning any comment with, “Hey, it’s probably just me, but…..”
Thou shalt join thy professional organization. It is a false economy to be out of touch with what is going on in the larger world of your field (particularly if it’s not a terribly large world, like Scandinavian Studies or something.) While you are at it, keep educating yourself about academia in general by reading Inside Higher Ed, this publication (some of the best blogs are free, but a two year subscription is cheaper than a month of your cable bill), and academic blogs (particularly those in your field that will alert you to books long before the reviews appear in a journal.) There are many voices: listen to all of them, decide what you think and what you care about. Professionalize yourself. Even if you end up leaving academia, you will know why — and how to use your experience to do something that suits you better.
Thou shalt not suck up to thy mentors nor have sexual congress with them, nor shalt thou, when a TA, cross the line thyself. Need I elaborate? An excellent way to shred your career right at the beginning is to be part of a sexual harassment suit. Or a co-respondent in someone’s divorce. Here’s another hint: undergraduates and graduate TA’s are not “students” in the same way. Even if you are only a year or two older.
Thou shalt not gossip and spread hurtful calumny, nor write vituperative email, nor bcc when chastising others. Many of the ways you may have behaved on email as an undergraduate will erode your reputation as a graduate student. For example: telling tales out of school on the faculty or on other graduate students; expressing resentment and anger to an audience; or writing long, enraged emails that you copy to other people. Particularly in the latter case, that email may be out there forever. Don’t assume your university email is private either: make sure you have another account that only the NSA can get into.
Thou shalt use the word discourse sparingly; likewise neoliberalism, and other theoretical catchphrases designed to obscure that thou hast not fully thought through thine ideas. The best part of the first year in graduate school is immersing yourself in the theoretical tools of your discipline or interdisciplinary field. You will feel like a big, wonderful sponge. But, as the wise Carroll Smith-Rosenberg once said to me, “Wear your theory lightly, my dear.” Don’t sound smart: be smart. Intellectuals don’t want to have Michel Foucault, or Michael Warner, or Gayatri Spivak, or Anthony Appiah read back to them: they want to know what you think. Make sure you know, and learn to speak and write it in the most inviting way you can.
Thou shalt remember that this was supposed to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, it is essential to find out why. Seek out appropriate counsel.
Carl Zimmer’s banned words list for science writers. Love this. I highlighted and commented on a few that I see all the time from my students or in academic journals. A word from Carl Zimmer:
By assembling this list, I don’t mean to say that no one should ever use these words. I am not teaching people how to write scientific papers. What I mean is that anyone who wants to learn how to write about science–and to be read by people who aren’t being paid to read–should work hard to learn how to explain science in plain yet elegant English–not by relying on scientific jargon, code-words, deadening euphemisms, or meaningless cliches.