Excluded Cases and Why They Remain Important

This continues our series of student reflections and analysis authored by our research team.

The tPP data set[1] has an extensive process of selecting cases that fit the criteria for the database.  This process is called the decision tree and has been described in other blog posts.  While the data set currently has almost 1,202 coded cases, there are some cases that did not meet the qualifications of the decision tree at some point in time and ended up becoming excluded.  These cases appear to be ones that would be relevant to the set but they fall short of particular qualifications.  When a case is excluded it is placed into a document of excluded cases where it is briefly explained and then its exclusion is subsequently explained as well.  Some may wonder why we bother to record cases that are not matches for us, well, many these excluded cases can reveal information about the tPP data set itself.

Some excluded cases are straightforward to explain, such as the case of William Rodgers.[2]  William Rodgers was an environmental activist and major leader of an act of arson at a Vail Ski Resort in Colorado.  He is excluded from the data set because he committed suicide in jail shortly after he was arrested.  Since he was not able to be charged and prosecuted, he is excluded from the tPP data set.

Other cases in the excluded cases file deal with more complicated issues such as intent.  Intent becomes crucial in determining whether or not to omit particular cases from the dataset.  Does the individual committing the act of terrorism or political violence truly possess a political motive?  Are their crimes attempting to further a particular terrorist organization or movement?

The tPP dataset contains many variables that are coded with very precise language to ensure that intent is the primary focus of the coding.  Some of these variables include ‘people versus property’ or ‘ideological affiliation’.  People versus property outright asks “Did this crime intend to target human beings, material property, both or neither?”[3]  This seeks to determine the intent of whom the crime was trying to cause harm towards.  Ideological affiliation is defined by the codebook as “What belief system, if any, motivated the defendant to commit the crime?”[4] This variable also focuses on what the core value system of the individual is and this can affect the intention of their crime.  If one throws a brick threw a McDonald’s window out of anger it would not be considered terrorism.  However, if they had an ideology that opposed consumption of animals and they committed the same crime, the same act could be considered an act of political violence, and likely termed by the government as ‘eco-terrorism’.

These variables show the emphasis that the data set places on intent.  The excluded cases are a variety of examples where the acts may be heinous, or may present rhetoric that is similar to what one may consider to be terrorism, however, this specific data set takes into careful consideration intent, and every case must fully pass through the decision tree before it qualifies to be coded into the data set.  These excluded cases are still valuable, as they show the value this tPP data set places on intent.

– Hannah Hendricks


[1]Loadenthal, Michael, Zoe Belford, Izzy Bielamowicz, Jacob Bishop, Athena Chapekis, Morgan Demboski, Bridget Dickens, Lauren Donahoe, Alexandria Doty, Megan Drown, Jessica Enhelder, Angela Famera, Kayla Groneck, Nikki Gundimeda, Hannah Hendricks, Isabella Jackson, Taylor Maddox, Sarah Moore, Katie Reilly, Elizabeth Springer, Michael Thompson, Tia Turner, Brenda Uriona, Brendan Newman, Jenn Peters, Rachel Faraci, Maggie McCutcheon, and Megan Zimmerer, 2018. “The Prosecution Project (tPP) October 2018” Miami University Sociology Department. https://tpp.lib.miamioh.edu. Loadenthal 2018. “The Prosecution Project (Decision Tree)”

[2] (Loadenthal et. al, 2018)

[3] (Loadenthal et. al, 2018)

[4] (Loadenthal et. al, 2018)


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