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Quantification Study of Serial Murder, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

Summary and Critical Review of a Quantification Study of Serial Murder Victimization in the United StatesStudy

The effort targets the scholarly work of Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Law and Safety of Schools of Public Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University  Kenna Quintet, and is entitled “The Missing Missing: Towards  Quantification of Serial Murder Victimization in the United States”. It was written in November 2007 and can be found in Homicide Studies, Vol. 1114 November pp.319-339.

Summary and Analysis

Associate Professor Quintet article seeks to estimate the number of serial murders in the United States and the level of victimization prevalent, by extrapolating data from existing databases which include missing persons, unidentified deaths, misidentified and deaths. At the end of the study a range was produced which had a lower estimate of 182 which included hidden serial murders and upper estimate of 1832, both of which provided indications to other scholars of the people killed by serial killers annually in the United States.

Quintet (2007) conducted the study using the scholarly works of Fox & Livin, (1985), Holmes &DeBurger, (1988), and Kiger (1990), among others, to develop the estimated ranges for the number of homicides that could have occurred, and took note of the fact that according to Kiger (1990), several scholars are contending that there were serious overestimation of the numbers presented, as well as the extraordinary waste of time and money on work that comprised only 1% of the total homicides committed in the country.

Reasons such as the exaggeration of actual homicides by convicted of prosecuted serial killers, confusion of the identity and classifications of victims, political manipulation by the FBI to gain greater national authority, attack strategies by feminist groups to influence court rulings for the death penalty and harsher sentencing for crimes against women, diverse religious groups seeking to exposed the dangers of Satanism, and  media profiteering at the expense of these crimes by the sales of their papers as well as rise in ratings.

Strategies like identification of active serial killers, analysis of data on victims killed by serial killers, improving the surveillance methodologies, paying attention to overlooked special areas and conducting case studies on model case like that of Gary Ridgeway- the Green River Killer. were forwarded as means whereby more accurate estimations can be formulated.

Ritter (2008)however, argued that this could not be done unless policy relevant research were done to refine the annual statistics on homicide victims and offenders, while Quinet (2007), in her research place great emphasis on hidden victims like gays and prostitute because their lifestyles has made them primary targets for serial killers and the crimes are often unreported and given any attention under 24 hours of their disappearance.

Quinet (2007), also pointed out that the missing can only be quantified by examining the different categories of homicides, which she identified as the family abducted, stranger abducted, the thrown away, voluntary and involuntary missing, and the long and short term missing. All these combined, according to Quinet (2007), resonated well with the FBI 2004 report,which numerically put the figure at 840,279 adults and children.

The accuracy of Quinet (2007), study however, was challenged by poor record keeping at practically all the state regulated institutions except for Washington State,  failure of many states to use  the victims dental records to aid the identification process, the confidentiality laws relating to missing foster children, the un-reporting of parents of throwaways, wrong classifications of deaths,  the  6036 and 1112 death cases on the NCIC and The Doe Networks respectively, and the discrepancies between NCIS and The Network of Medico Legal Investigative Systems databases on homicides committed by serial killers.

Misidentification was regarded as a key factor in the exacerbation of the quality of the data used to determine the estimate required to determine the quantification of serial murder victims, in a country in which approximately 2.5 million people die from homicides annually, and may not be recorded by the NVSS unless their autopsies are certified. Cost factor and limited storage capacity at morgueswere according to Quinet (2007), cited as two of the main reasons for this occurrence.

In closing Quinet (2007), argue that more resources and research are needed to investigate these areas as well as the prisons,which are hiring unlicensed medical doctors who may be contributing significantly to the 75% of deaths due to natural causes in annual prison reports, and in hospitals and other medical facilities wherethe medical murders that are reigning freely and unsupervised in workplaces that have become their hunting and killing grounds.

Critically the fuzzy nature of the data, the lack of reliable and consistent data in all states except Washington, and the single use of Washington as a model for extrapolation purposes, have induced different degree of errors into the study and the conclusions derived, but in terms of scope, future researchers are provided with an abundance of information and arguments to pursue and refine specific areas; that will lead to greater degrees of accuracy in the development of estimates that are more objective and scientifically reliable.

Quinet work was remarkable detailed and expansive in that she journeyed into areas like the prisons, hospitals, several reputable data banks, the impact of throwaways, voluntary and involuntary missing people, long and short term disappearances,  unrecorded deaths and disappearances of prostitutes and gays, case interviews of serial killers, several scholarly work, wrong classifications of deaths activities, death records of all 50 states, the contributory factors to the inaccuracy of the data and the FBI reports to gather material for the study.

The study may generate more national attention and lead to revocation of laws concerning the  24 hour time frame that are in place when  reporting people who are missing, due to the fact that  2.5 million deaths of this nature are occurring annually..

Quinet seems to have failed to realize in her study that by using Washington State as a model, she was ignoring the culture of other states, their distribution patterns, as well as the different objectives and personalities of serial killers being tried in different courts nationally. Provisions should have been made to include at least two other states statistical information, to reduce the direction of the skew and the high dependence on the sole state chosen.

Additionally, Quinet should have considered other statistical methodologies to do her analysis rather than using extrapolation which induces an abundance of possible sources of errors which are difficult to measure and make adjustments to reflect their impacts.

However, the research can be used as a launching pad for future work, and has highlighted areas of state performance deficiencies that may attract the attention of interest groups to pursue and to have them remedied. This may lead to improvement in the level of accountability and efficiency within the national police force in the recording and reporting of deaths by serial killers and other homicides.

Reference

Quinet, K. (2007). The Missing Missing: Toward a Quantification of Serial Murder Victimization in the United States Homicide Studies November 2007 11.319 Vol.1114 pp.319-339

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