The Numbers on Cold Cases

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This is taken from an article called “Open Cases: Why One-Third of Murder In America Go Unresolved” by Martin Kaste.

If you’re murdered in America, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that the police won’t identify your killer.

To use the FBI’s terminology, the national “clearance rate” for homicide today is 64.1 percent. Fifty years ago, it was more than 90 percent.

And that’s worse than it sounds, because “clearance” doesn’t equal conviction: It’s just the term that police use to describe cases that end with an arrest, or in which a culprit is otherwise identified without the possibility of arrest — if the suspect has died, for example.

Criminologists estimate that at least 200,000 murders have gone unsolved since the 1960s, leaving family and friends to wait and wonder.

The only statistics I was able to dig up on clearance rates on homicides specifically relating to SFPD were from over five years ago.  And between 2011 and 2013, their clearance rates were a bit above that average figure.  In 2013, they cleared a whopping 58%.  Still, that leaves a lot of people still unable to see their loved ones get justice.

In another article I read, the author talked about the bar being higher than ever now to bring a case to closure.  The District Attorneys more and more demand that police provide “open-and-shut” cases.  Of course, the DA is an elected position, and the more cases the DA can claim he has won, the better.  Any politician would know that the “I’m going to clean up this town” platform is a winner.  Politics aside, these statistics are anything but encouraging.

 

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