Basic Defender Statistics Essay

1032 words - 5 pages

WHAT ARE DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS?
Before we continue the discussion about the basic descriptive data elements that are needed to answer the question I previously posed, it is important to understand what we mean by descriptive statistics. Descriptive statistics describe the features of the data collected. In other words, descriptive statistics describe “what” the data looks like, but it does not tell you why or how data elements interact or influence one another. Descriptive statistics provide a defender with summaries about the data collected and these summaries may be either quantitative or visual. Quantitative descriptive statistics are the sum of data points that are usually reported as total numbers or averages in a report. For example, defender offices can use descriptive statistics to determine the total of open felony cases per attorney in one year or say that on average they had x number of open cases in the last two years. These are considered to be summaries of caseloads that describe the data collected but it does not tell you if a certain variable (number of cases opened in this example) has an influence (or is correlated) with the final outcome of a case. When we say that a variable is correlated we mean that the knowledge of a certain variable (caseload numbers) can allow you to consistently predict the action of another (final dispositional outcomes). For example, if you mix two hydrogen and one oxygen (H20), you get water. We know that every time you have the interaction of these variables, you can statistically infer that this combination of elements (variables) will consistently give us a substance that we call water. Descriptive statistics do not allow you to make this type of predictions or inferences; it will only tell you that you have a certain number of variables in your data (two hydrogen and one oxygen). Although descriptive statistics do not in and of themselves make predictions, they can be used to perform a basic summary evaluation and can help you take inventory and track changes in the total number of data elements that you collect. A defender can compile these numbers into simple graphics (i.e. pie charts, bar charts, diagrams), to look at a picture that can graphically describe the data collected.
Inferential statistics are used to make predictions about the interaction (or correlation) between different variables. With inferential statistics, you use statistical formulas to reach conclusions or make predictions that extend beyond describing the total number variables found in the data that you collect. For example, a defender can use inferential statistics to infer that the early appointment of counsel improves dispositional outcomes for persons charged with the murder in the first degree. You can use inferential statistics to explain an observed difference between certain types of cases and say that the change (or improved outcome) is dependent on certain action and that the change in that outcome...

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