Posts Tagged ‘Montana’

More on murders in 2020

November 1, 2021

CDC data indicate there was a 30% increase in U.S. murders in 2020, as reported here by the Pew Trust, consistent with UCR data published a few weeks ago. That one year increase was the largest since 1905, and possibly the biggest ever since reporting was less comprehensive 100+ years ago. Low-density states Montana and South Dakota had the sharpest increases at over 80%, but populous states spiked too, including New York (47%), Pennsylvania (39%), and California (36%). The proportion of murders involving firearms increased from 73% to 77%, while the clearance rate, according to FBI data, dropped from 61% to 54%. Despite the murder increase, the 2020 U.S. murder rate (7.8 per 100,000 people) remained well below the rates of suicide (13.5) and overdose (27.1). 

Autopsies hindered by organ donation

October 17, 2019

Organ donation has become more common over the years, and several states have enacted laws aimed at speeding up the “harvesting” process so that body parts can be preserved to help others in need. As reported here, these laws sometimes enable companies to secure parts, including skin and bones in addition to organs, before autopsies have been conducted. Investigations have been compromised — “In multiple cases, coroners have had to guess at the cause of death.”

Threatening to commit mass shootings

September 3, 2019

This article reports over 40 people arrested around the country over the last month for threatening to commit mass shootings or bombings, most after tips from the public. Common themes included right-wing ideology and threats against schools, Walmarts, and Planned Parenthood. The nature of the cases ranged from “vague social media threats from juveniles that set parents on edge to well-developed plots from people who had access to weapons and appeared to authorities to have been planning a mass murder.”

DNA errors

September 27, 2018

DNA evidence is widely regarded as iron-clad. Particularly when the evidence is a mixture from several people, however, crime labs are prone to make errors, according to this op-ed column. In one study, 74 out of 105 labs incorrectly implicated an innocent person in a test sample, and the labs’ calculations of probability statistics varied hugely. Independent reanalysis of DNA has recently led courts to overturn 5 convictions. Efficient methods are now available for reanalysis of DNA mixtures in past cases, but labs and prosecutors do not seem anxious to adopt them.

Responding to a suicide threat

February 17, 2016

This Montana reporter reflects on a recent suicide call handled by first responders, and follows up with an interview with the Missoula County undersheriff. Perhaps surprisingly, Montana has the highest suicide rate among all 50 states.