# Inferential and Descriptive Statistics

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Before we continue the discussion about the basic descriptive data elements that are needed to answer the question I previously posed, it is important to understand what we mean by descriptive statistics. Descriptive statistics describe the features of the data collected. In other words, descriptive statistics describe “what” the data looks like, but it does not tell you why or how data elements interact or influence one another. Descriptive statistics provide a defender with summaries about the data collected and these summaries may be either quantitative or visual. Quantitative descriptive statistics are the sum of data points that are usually reported as total numbers or averages in a report. For example, defender offices can use descriptive statistics to determine the total of open felony cases per attorney in one year or say that on average they had x number of open cases in the last two years. These are considered to be summaries of caseloads that describe the data collected but it does not tell you if a certain variable (number of cases opened in this example) has an influence (or is correlated) with the final outcome of a case. When we say that a variable is correlated we mean that the knowledge of a certain variable (caseload numbers) can allow you to consistently predict the action of another (final dispositional outcomes). For example, if you mix two hydrogen and one oxygen (H20), you get water. We know that every time you have the interaction of these