Covid-19 Cases Per 10,000 Residents VS Criminal Cases Referred Per 10,000 Residents
- Unified Government of Wyandotte County Kansas City, KS. “Wyandotte County COVID-19 Hub: Official COVID-19 Data for Wyandotte County.” Accessed June 16th https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/
- S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates
- S. Census Bureau. 2018 Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA’s).
- Office of the District Attorney, 29th Judicial District of Kansas. JustWare Database.
[i] To make a more valid comparison between the areas of Wyandotte County most affected by the Wyandotte District Attorney’s office and areas where COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly, we look for the earliest possible data on COVID-19 spread to better estimate transmission due to confinement in the Wyandotte County jail, as opposed to community transmission. Here all cases referred to the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office in 2019 is treated as a proxy for Zip Codes most affected by the office. June 16th 2020 was selected as it was the earliest publicly available data on COVID cases by Zip Code the Vera Institute of Justice was able to access. It is highly likely that cases at this time point represent both community transmission and transmission originating from confinement in the Wyandotte County Jail. Future analysis may more precisely compare COVID cases from early in 2020 and criminal cases received in the same time period.
[ii] “Criminal Cases Referred” here refers to all cases received by the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office in 2019. Only cases where a defendant had a valid home address recorded were used for this analysis. Overall, about 15% of cases received in 2019 were missing a valid home address.
[iii] Results are shown as a “rate” per 10,000 residents to adjust for the differing populations per each Zip Code. The rate is calculated by taking the number of events (here COVID-19 cases and/or criminal cases referred to the Wyandotte District Attorney) divided by the population of the Zip Code, multiplied by 10,000. This allows us to compare the proportion of the population per each Zip Code without biasing results towards those with higher populations.
[iv] Zip Code “66007” is considered by the United States Census Bureau to be a part of the Wyandotte County Zip Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA). The ZCTA at times varies slightly from precise legal boundaries, and in this case, a portion of 66007 is not located in Wyandotte County.
[v] ACLU Analytics, Lofgren E, Luma K, Horowitz A, Madubuonwu B, Fefferman N. “COVID-19 Model Finds Nearly 100,000 More Deaths Than Current Estimates Due to Failures to Reduce Jails.” ACLU. Spring 2020. https://www.aclu.org/report/flattening-curve-why-reducing-jail-populations-key-beating-covid-19
[vi] Eric Reinhart, Daniel L. Chen. “Incarceration And Its Disseminations: COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons From Chicago’s Cook County Jail.” Health Affairs. June 4 2020. doi: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00652
Use this map to explore the relationship between disparities in public health and criminal justice disparities in Wyandotte County. The map shows a comparison between confirmed COVID-19 cases as of June 16th 2020[i] and total criminal cases referred to the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office in 2019.[ii] Zip Codes shaded in a darker red indicate a higher number of criminal cases received per 10,000 residents,[iii] while the numbers in the transparent boxes show the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents as of June 16th 2020. Clicking on a specific area will show additional information about the demographics of that Zip Code.[iv]
The map makes a compelling case that there are broader societal factors contributing to the disparities we see in Wyandotte County. The coronavirus pandemic will eventually end, but the disparities in terms of both public health and criminal justice it has revealed will likely persist without bold actions to remedy them. For related information on how the criminal justice system has exacerbated the pandemic, see research on modeling how jails affect the spread of COVID,[v] and an empirical study on Chicago jails indicating that they may be responsible for as much as 16% of area COVID-19 cases.[vi]