MJP Watchdog databases



U.S. Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database


In December 2013, The Medill Justice Project released its national database on shaken-baby syndrome cases to the public for the first time.

Working with undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Northwestern University, The Medill Justice Project identified and confirmed more than 3,000 cases of shaken-baby syndrome in the United States, using more than 30 sources, including press accounts, public record searches, databases such as LexisNexis and court documents. That number of accusations is primarily comprised of criminal charges but also includes some instances where individuals were accused but not charged, or charges were dropped.

With the help of a team of engineering graduate students at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, the database shows the gender, race or ethnicity and age of those accused and the county and state where each case occurred. The Medill Justice Project plans to update the database as more categories of data are verified. The database excludes individual defendant names in line with the recommendation of several national criminal justice experts. That’s because, for instance, recent caregivers’ cases have shown that some people are innocent of these violent crimes. The goal is to identify national patterns and trends.

The Medill Justice Project hopes the public will use this database to better understand this largely opaque issue, which affects families throughout the nation. The information may be used for independent research and reporting as long as The Medill Justice Project’s database is credited.

If you have information about a shaken-baby syndrome case or cases and would like to add it to The Medill Justice Project’s national database, please contact us at medilljusticeproject@northwestern.edu, or 847-491-5840. Please also contact us in cases where those accused of such crimes wish to have their attorneys’ names and contact information published as part of The Medill Justice Project database.

To access the database, click The Medill Justice Project’s Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database.


To read stories The Medill Justice Project wrote based on the shaken-baby syndrome database research, click the following links:

Medill Innocence Project Examines Shaken-Baby Syndrome Cases Nationwide: Long-Range Research to Be First U.S. Published Database

Methodology: How The Medill Justice Project is Creating a U.S. Database on Shaken-Baby Syndrome

The Gender Gap: Study Shows Men Far More Likely Than Women to Be Accused of Violently Shaking Infants

Hot Spots: Study Identifies Where Higher Rates of Shaken-Baby Syndrome Cases Are Occurring in the United States



South Africa Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database


The Medill Justice Project is examining shaken-baby syndrome cases abroad, starting in South Africa, where authorities said it is a little-understood criminal justice concern. Working with undergraduate students from Prof. Loren Ghiglione’s International Journalism: South Africa class at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, The Medill Justice Project has collected and verified the following cases through press accounts that mention a shaken-baby syndrome accusation in South Africa. If you have information about a shaken-baby syndrome case or cases in South Africa and would like to add it to The Medill Justice Project’s South Africa shaken-baby syndrome database, please contact us at medilljusticeproject@northwestern.edu, or +1 (847) 491-5840.

To access the database, click The Medill Justice Project’s South Africa Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database.


database


Sweden Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database


The Medill Justice Project continues its study of shaken-baby syndrome cases around the world with an examination of the diagnosis in Sweden. The cases in this database come in large part from Riksförbundet för Familjers Rättigheter (National Association for Families’ Rights or RFFR), a Swedish organization that works with families claiming to have fallen victim to false accusations of child abuse. RFFR verified its data through court and medical records and interviews with the accused, lawyers and doctors. Additionally, The Medill Justice Project conducted its own interviews and used Swedish court records to add and verify cases. If you have information about any shaken-baby syndrome cases in Sweden and would like to add it to The Medill Justice Project’s Sweden database, please contact us at medilljusticeproject@northwestern.edu, or +1 (847) 491-5840.

To access the database, click The Medill Justice Project’s Sweden Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database.

To read a story The Medill Justice Project wrote on shaken-baby syndrome in Sweden, click the following link:

Diagnosis in Translation: Shaken-Baby Syndrome Is Being Reconsidered Across the Globe, Including in Sweden Where the Courts and Government Are Weighing In


IrelandSBS


Ireland Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database


The Medill Justice Project continues its international study on shaken-baby syndrome by focusing on prosecutions arising from shaken-baby syndrome cases in Ireland.

The cases in this database are not an exhaustive list of shaken-baby syndrome prosecutions in Ireland as court records are not readily available in the country. The Medill Justice Project collected information about cases from press reports of prosecutions and sentencing hearings which researchers consider a valid way to gather data. The Medill Justice Project also used the Irish Sentencing Information System, a website and database that provides reports on how the Irish courts sentence those convicted. In nine cases The Medill Justice Project collected, the defendants pleaded guilty.

Additionally, a previous study conducted at the Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street in Dublin collected data from 1998 to 2009 and identified 22 cases of abusive head trauma. Of those cases, one case was prosecuted at the time of the study in April 2010.

In Ireland, if a defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the state will pay for a lawyer of the defendant’s choosing. In most states in the United States, a defendant who cannot afford a lawyer will be assigned a public defender who may have limited resources and may be saddled with a heavy caseload. In addition, a defendant in a serious criminal case in Ireland is guaranteed a jury trial and cannot opt for a bench trial. In the United States, a defendant can ask to waive a jury trial for a bench trial.

If you have information about any shaken-baby syndrome cases in Ireland and would like to add it to The Medill Justice Project’s Ireland database, please contact us at medilljusticeproject@northwestern.edu, or +1 (847) 491-5840.

To access the database, click The Medill Justice Project’s Ireland Shaken-Baby Syndrome Database.


Tracked database


Tracked: Public Education & Juvenile Justice


Across the United States, children sit behind desks in classrooms or behind bars in detention centers. The Medill Justice Project is collecting data to examine public education and juvenile justice and the intersection between the two state-run systems. If you have information about this issue, please contact us at medilljusticeproject@northwestern.edu, or 847-491-5840.

To access the database, click The Medill Justice Project’s Tracked Database.