Students of Criminal Justice and Law must often muddle through piles of data to create hypotheses and draw conclusions. Sometimes the data is drawn upon research conducted at the University, but it need not be. The United States government collects and compiles so much data today that just three databases can provide any student with years of research, maybe decades. Following are three of the best free crime and justice-related databases which students of criminal justice will find useful.
Data.gov is the official website for the United States government data collection. It offers open source data as part of the services provided by U.S. General Services Administration, an little-known agency which has been serving the public for nearly seven decades.
All data is presented in a standard format and available for download as a spreadsheet. The standard categories for the data are:
- Last Update
- Contact Name
- Additional info
Initially, the data is sorted by 14 topics, which are:
- Local Government
- Public Safety
- Science & Research
Although the project is still rather new, there is already an abundance of information to be found which will be useful to students of justice and law. In addition, the entire database is searchable. For instance, a broad search for “crime” yielded 10 data sets including:
- Campus Safety and Security Survey, 2013
- School Survey on Crime and Safety, 2010
- EDFacts Safe and Drug-Free Schools, 2011-12
- My Brother’s Keeper Key Statistical Indicators on Boys and Men of Color
Since 1930, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been collecting crime data from police agencies around the country. Although participation in collecting and sending crime data to the FBI is voluntary, the vast majority of law enforcement organizations in the United States participate. This provides students of crime and justice with an abundance of information upon which to understand the subject in various population centers.
The data collected is provided in a spreadsheet format with important annotations and there is even a tool for customizing the data pulled, making research much easier and less time-consuming. To learn more about using this tool, click here.
Access the FBI UCR here.
For decades, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been collecting data related to every country on earth. Each year, the data is compiled into a publication called the CIA World Factbook. At one time, the only way to get the book was to purchase it in a bookstore or check it out from the local library. Today, the CIA provides the same information on their website along with special reports and publications, all of which may be downloaded or viewed online.
Students of criminal justice and law will most be interested in the:
- geographic information
- demographic info
- government info including court and legislative systems
- economic info
- details related to the military in the nation
- transnational information, often as it relates to legal issues impacting the nation
We encourage students to check out the CIA World Factbook.
Access the CIA World Factbook here.
Great Free Data Tools for Students of Criminal Justice and Law
At CriminalJusticeLaw.org, we are dedicated to helping students of criminal justice and law speed research by providing both great tools for research along with recommendations and links to resources we believe will be beneficial. If you have an idea for such a resource, please drop us a note at CJOakes@criminaljusticelaw.org.
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