Violent crime in America has always been a problem, but as a result of the media citizens think it is a bigger issue than it actually is. The media would rather focus on violent crime, specifically murder, rather than the more common crimes such as: burglary assault, etc. This helped create what is known as the ‘CSI Effect,’ which is the idea that viewers think crime is exactly like crimes portrayed on television. As a Criminal Justice major I am able to see how the ‘CSI Effect’ affects members of society.
Murder rate changes from state to state, but when comparing rates from 2002 and 2012 you will realize many states have only had a slight increase in murder rates during this ten year time period. There are also some states whose rates have decreased. Also some people may think that states with a higher population will have a higher murder rate, but with my second and third maps I will be able to show that that is not always the case. My first map will show the percent change in murder rates by state between 2002 and 2012. My second map will show the percent change in population between 2002 and 2012.
Finally, my third map will show which states had an increase in murder rate and population, a decrease in both murder rate and population, an increase in only population and an increase in only murder rates. For all three of my maps I will be using a polygon shape file of the United States from the U. S. Census Burrow website which will be used as my spatial data source. I received the population and murder rates from 2002 and 2014 from the U. S. department of Justice, which will be my non-spatial data source. These were pulled from the Uniform Crime Reports, which are completed annually.
The Uniform Crime Report is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of nearly 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. These include all minor and major crimes committed throughout the year. My first map shows the percent change in murder rates between 2002 and 2012. For my spatial data I found a United States shape file on the United States Census Bureau’s website. Next I downloaded the Uniform Crime Report’s from 2002 and 2012 from the United States Department of Justice website as an excel spreadsheet.
I deleted unneeded data from each spreadsheet and then combined the two into one spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will serve as my non-spatial data. I joined the spreadsheet to my shape file in order to categorize each state based on the percent change in murder rate. I made each category a different color in order to better see the changes rather than using a single graduated color scale. To finish off my map I added a legend, which includes the percentage scale, which was used to categorize this map. My second map shows the percent change in population between 2002 and 2012.
For my spatial data I used the same United States shape file from the United States Census Bureau’s website. I also used the same excel spreadsheet that I used for the first map since I combined both datasets from the United States Department of Justice website. This spreadsheet served as my non-spatial data. I joined the spreadsheet to my shape file, which allowed me to categorize each map based on the percent change in population. I made each category a different color in order for the viewer to better understand the changes. I used the same colors as the first map so the viewer can compare the two maps.
To finish my map I added a legend, which includes the percentage scale used to categorize this map. For my third and final map I showed which states had an increase in both murder rate and population, a decrease in both murder rate and population, an increase in murder rate, and lastly which state had an increase in population. Once again, I used the same United States map shape file from the US Census Bureau’s website as the spatial data. Also reusing the excel spreadsheet with the datasets from the United States Department of Justice website.
This allowed me to categorize the map so the viewer will not have to compare the two maps because I have done it for them. I used the same colors from the previous two maps and again added a legend, which includes what each color stands for because I did not use percentages this time. The legend has four colors, one to represent which states had an increase in both murder rate and population, the second color represents which states had a decrease in both murder rate and population, the third color represents which states had an increase in only murder rate, and the fourth represents which states had an increase in only population.
After completing my three maps I was able to prove that murders do not occur as often as the media leads on. While looking at my first map you will see that only five states have had a major increase, 24. 5%-82. 14%, in murder rate. If you think back to the most recent news broadcast you have watched you may recall that it talked about at least one recent murder in your town or county. Now if you think back to the past few months you may realize each daily news broadcast has followed this same pattern.
Due to this pattern one would think that there was a large increase in the amount of murders being committed in Indiana, or the state you are from. I will use Indiana for this example, when you locate Indiana on the map you will notice it is green which means it falls into the category where the percent change in murder rate has fallen between 4. 30% to 27. 12% in this ten year time period, again proving that murders do not occur as often as the media leads on.
Now looking at the second map, which shows the percent change in population you will notice that the majority of states have had an increase in population. This may lead you to believe that the higher population a state has may mean it would have a higher murder rate compared to a state with a smaller population. However, when looking at the third map you will be able to see that this is not the case. While looking at the third map you will notice it is primarily half purple and half blue. The purple symbolizes which states have had an increase in both murder rate and population.
The blue symbolizes the states that have only had an increase in population. Many people may believe that if a state has a higher population, it will have a higher murder rate, but this map shows that that is not always the case. Clearly an increase in murder rate may be an issue in about fifty percent of the country, but it is not an issue for every state like the media portrays. Using Indiana as an example again, you will notice that Indiana is blue, which means it has only had an increase in population, showing that the murder rate is not a huge issue.
When choosing my project I knew I wanted to pick a topic that I would find interesting and that I would be able to connect to my Criminal Justice major. I have done a lot of research on the ‘CSI Effect’ and this project has helped me learn even more about it. This project, and class in general has taught me how I am able to connect almost anything to my major. When I added my digital forensics minor I did not understand why I needed a geography class, but now I see how it applies.
This project has taught me how to use maps in order to prove research I have completed or found. Most people think graphs are the best way to prove research data, but this project has shown me other options I never would have thought to use. If I were to redo this project I would try fixing the categories so that the scales are all positive or all negative not both. I think this makes it hard to use has proof because without the chart you do not know if that state had an increase or decrease in either murder rate or population.