Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Misleading Stats

Alejandro Poiré was bragging the other day about how 85 percent of the cases brought before federal judges result in convictions. That may be the case (though the note linked above was very short on details, and I suppose that he wasn't even bragging and the newspaper just played it that way), but that stat means a lot less than he implies. As the government itself reported just a couple of weeks ago, more than 70 percent of those arrested on federal charges never see trial. Presumably, Poiré's figure refers to that 28 percent who do go trial, but 85 percent of 28 percent of arrests --less than a quarter-- doesn't strike me as impressive.

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