Headshot of Stephen J. Morewitz, CSUEB lecturer

Stephen J. Morewitz

Research by CSUEB scholar finds evidence of racial disparity in missing-persons reports

  • July 1, 2013 5:00am

Stephen J. Morewitz, Ph.D., lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, is a leading authority on missing persons. He will present the findings of his recent research on racial differences in the police classification of foul play in missing-persons reports at the 13th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology in Budapest, Hungary, September 4-7, 2013.

Based on a random sample of 998 missing-persons reports that were filed between 1991 and 2011 and published on major missing-persons Web sites, Morewitz found that law enforcement agencies were more likely to classify white missing persons (29.7%) as involving foul play than black missing persons (15.0%).  These results remained statistically significant after controlling for possible intervening factors, such as the missing persons’ gender. 

In another investigation using the same dataset, Morewitz discovered that the police were less likely to classify endangered missing-persons reports (32.9%) as involving foul play than missing-persons reports that were not classified as endangered missing (67.1%).  These results remained statistically significant after controlling for possible intervening factors.  


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