Case comment—Boncher v. Brown County1272 F.3d 484 (7th Cir. 2001). : the need for an appropriate comparison of suicide rates
Author: Gastwirth, Joseph L.
Source: Law, Probability and Risk, Volume 4, Number 4, December 2005 , pp. 257-263(7)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:This case concerns the level of supervision a local government needs to provide for inmates of jails who may have an increased risk of committing suicide. An expert noted that the number of suicides at the particular jail was ‘high’ and implied the county should have been on notice that inmates were not being monitored sufficiently. The appels court noted that the expert had not made any statistical comparison of the suicide rate for the jail in question either to national data for the general population or to that of other jails. This failure to use a control group should have rendered the expert's testimony inadmissible. A recent publication of the Bureau of Justice Statistics recommends an alternative definition of suicide rates, which would reduce the current measure of prisoner suicide rates by a factor of 10. A more careful definition of the rate of suicides shows that this alternative measure is inappropriate.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 2005
- The journal publishes papers that deal with topics on the interface of law and probabilistic reasoning. These are interpreted broadly to include aspects relevant to the interpretation of scientific evidence, the assessment of uncertainty and the assessment of risk. The readership is primarily academic lawyers, mathematicians, statisticians and social scientists with interests in quantitative reasoning.