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Ross Osborn, Zach Linderman, & Eric Slipe

First Project Assignment
The dataset we chose to use is “Gender, Mental Illness, and Crime in the United
States.” The study draws data and variables from the “National Household Survey
on Drug Use and Health” (2004) and adds more questions relevant to this study’s
The study is funded by the United States government, in particular the
Department of Justice. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of
depression, drug use, and treatment on crime and the effects of interaction with the
criminal justice system on subsequent depression and drug use, with additional
insight into the effects gender could have on these topics.
The United States makes up about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but
it houses 22 percent
of the world’s incarcerated population. The 2.3 million
prisoners costs the United States roughly $24,000 per inmate per year, and
consumes roughly $60.3 billion in yearly budget expenditures. With this information
in mind, the need for this study become even more important. Clearly, there are
problems with current incarceration system.
Perhaps even more troubling is how ineffective prisons are at rehabilitating
their inmates. Within three years of their release, 67 percent of former prisoners are
rearrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated.
It would be beneficial to both the taxpayers (who are paying for the
prisoners) and society overall for the prison systems to be fixed. But what is the
best way to fix the prison system? A problem with a scope this massive precludes a
vast number of possible solutions. Would it be most effective to focus spending on
crime prevention, reforming incarcerated peoples, or something else entirely? The
United States government needs to know where its money will be best spent. The
massive sample size and detailed questions used in this survey will provide insight
as to where the focus of the United States government should be.
The potential results of data analysis could show the correlation of illegal
drug use and crime, depression and crime, and allows for analysis for each gender.
It could also show if depression treatment (medication or otherwise) decreases the
crime rate. In the same vein, it could show the effects of contact with the criminal
justice system on depression and illegal drug use.
Many different decisions could be made based off the data once we know
what the data shows. If depression correlates to a higher crime rate, a focus on
seeking help for mental health problems could aid in crime prevention. If contact
with the criminal justice system increases the risk for depression and/or illegal drug
use, the Department of Justice could look at what is causing these problems. Would
rehab for drug addicts result in a more productive member of society compared to a
prison sentence? Though criminals tend to be a group that politicians don’t tend to

Ross Osborn, Zach Linderman, & Eric Slipe
First Project Assignment
value too much, if states could institute better programs in prison or more effective
programs once an inmate is released it could reduce the re-incarceration rate for
former prisoners.

The effects analysis of this dataset could vary wildly depending on what the
data shows and how the Department of Justice decides to use the analysis. From the
study, the Justice Department may decide to focus on initial crime prevention,
reforming life for prisoners within prisoner so there is a focus on ensuring that they
are ready to re-enter society, or reducing the rate of recidivism.
Unlike the census of the overall population (taken every 10 years), prisoner
counts are taken annually in the United States. This count would provide an
effective basis for measuring the success of any measures taken. In addition to
showing if the overall prison population is fluctuating or staying the same, the
prisoner count provides information on recidivism and the type of offense
For example, if the dataset shows that depressed individuals are more likely
to commit crimes, mental health facilities would be a worthy investment. If usage of
illegal drugs is shown to often preclude other crimes, then investing in rehabilitation
for drug addicts could reduce the prison population. Increasing security in prisons as
a way to reduce drug usage could improve the reformation process for incarcerated
people. Obviously, the dataset and other factors must be significantly researched
before any decisions are made but these are some examples of how the study could
help fix the prison system in the United States.