Meet Bill Gates

Dubner recently posted about criminal names in England.

The American parallel to that list is one maintained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Texas list has information about all 396 people currently on death row in that state.

It includes first names, as well as details about their life and crimes in some instances.

The most likely first name to appear is Robert and variations thereof (Bob, Bobby, etc.). 18 of them. William/Willie/Billy/Bill is right behind with 17. Michael is at 14 and Anthony at 8. Steven/Stephen/Steve comes in at 6.

In Freakonomics, we argue that your name doesn’t determine your life outcome. If you need more proof on this point, check out inmate 999376’s profile.

[Addendum from Dubner: for those of you interested in keeping track of Federal prisoners and when they are due to be released, here’s a very handy prison locator, courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.]


jroane

I just fine it curious that Asians only rate as an "other" race. I'm not Asian but Hispanics, which is an ethnicity, gets a race but Asian doesn't.

Craig

On the page for earlier executions starting in the 1920s, there were six times as many black teenagers executed as white teenagers. (give or take, I actually lost count, but it was about 17-3, I think).

prosa

Bill Gates the Texas death-row inmate must be quite a sight, at 5'1" and 240 pounds :)

larala

A friend of mine works on the legal end of removing kids from dangerous homes, and he knew of a woman who was on crack during her pregnancy and named her newborn twins Heckel and Schmeckel (I'm guessing at the spellings). There wouldn't be statistics available on those particular names, since they're probably unique -- but couldn't you draw a conclusion about the future prospects of kids whose names sound like they were chosen by a mother who was high when she gave birth?

MattW

I've spent hours reading these now. I can't believe the payoffs on some of these crimes.
"Howard robbed a convenience store in Silsbee. During the robbery, Howard shot a 42 year old white female clerk one time in the chest, causing her death. Howard took $114 from the cash register during the robbery."
Or.
"The victim was shot while getting into the trunk. Murphy then drove the victim's car to Van Zandt County, where the victim was removed from the trunk and drowned in a creek. Murphy later used the victim's credit cards to purchase alcohol and cigarettes."

So much for the rational actor assumption.

jroane

MattW, most crimes are not rational acts. That why a lot of the hysteria over crime for most folks is just fantasy. The overwhelming number of crimes are committed among people that know each other or live close to one another. Most crimes are emotional responses.

onlineoddities

Made me think of this list of all the murderers with the middle name Wayne. No statistical analysis but the data certainly hints at something on the anecdotal level.
http://www.newsoftheweird.com/wayne.html

bayberry152

I suspect the causality is quite straightforward: If one were to calculate the median age of murder row inmates and examine the distribution of first name popularity in the birth year that matches the median age, Robert and William would likely be among the most popular.

Clem Snide

Bill Gates was also the name of the DJ who gave the Bee Gees their first big break. So, yes, some names are always associated with evil deeds.

jroane

I just fine it curious that Asians only rate as an "other" race. I'm not Asian but Hispanics, which is an ethnicity, gets a race but Asian doesn't.

Craig

On the page for earlier executions starting in the 1920s, there were six times as many black teenagers executed as white teenagers. (give or take, I actually lost count, but it was about 17-3, I think).

prosa

Bill Gates the Texas death-row inmate must be quite a sight, at 5'1" and 240 pounds :)

larala

A friend of mine works on the legal end of removing kids from dangerous homes, and he knew of a woman who was on crack during her pregnancy and named her newborn twins Heckel and Schmeckel (I'm guessing at the spellings). There wouldn't be statistics available on those particular names, since they're probably unique -- but couldn't you draw a conclusion about the future prospects of kids whose names sound like they were chosen by a mother who was high when she gave birth?

MattW

I've spent hours reading these now. I can't believe the payoffs on some of these crimes.
"Howard robbed a convenience store in Silsbee. During the robbery, Howard shot a 42 year old white female clerk one time in the chest, causing her death. Howard took $114 from the cash register during the robbery."
Or.
"The victim was shot while getting into the trunk. Murphy then drove the victim's car to Van Zandt County, where the victim was removed from the trunk and drowned in a creek. Murphy later used the victim's credit cards to purchase alcohol and cigarettes."

So much for the rational actor assumption.

jroane

MattW, most crimes are not rational acts. That why a lot of the hysteria over crime for most folks is just fantasy. The overwhelming number of crimes are committed among people that know each other or live close to one another. Most crimes are emotional responses.

onlineoddities

Made me think of this list of all the murderers with the middle name Wayne. No statistical analysis but the data certainly hints at something on the anecdotal level.
http://www.newsoftheweird.com/wayne.html

bayberry152

I suspect the causality is quite straightforward: If one were to calculate the median age of murder row inmates and examine the distribution of first name popularity in the birth year that matches the median age, Robert and William would likely be among the most popular.

Clem Snide

Bill Gates was also the name of the DJ who gave the Bee Gees their first big break. So, yes, some names are always associated with evil deeds.