U of M professor Barry Feld's crime study aborted after he's victim of crime

Categories: Crime, U of M
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Barry Feld
Think this post's headline is ironic? Barry Feld disagrees.

SEE ALSO: When dating prospects look bleak, women focus on their careers, U of M study finds

"It's not ironic. It's a disaster," he told us this afternoon. "There's been an enormous amount of collateral damage here."

Feld, a University of Minnesota law professor who's described on his U of M website as "one of the nation's leading scholars of juvenile justice," is referring to the theft of an external hard drive in his possession that contained the personal data of nearly 300 people.

The hard drive contained names, phone numbers, birth dates, and, in some cases, social security numbers, all of which were derived from police and court filings. With the help of a court order, Feld gathered the data for research he was doing for a book on criminal interrogations in Minnesota.

"Some of the stuff in the police reports was public information, but the reports also included information about victims and witnesses that would've been private," Feld said.

The theft occurred in February of last year when Feld's secretary left a bag containing the hard drive unmonitored by her desk in the U of M law school. (The story is just breaking publicly now because one of the victims recently contacted the media.)

"An opportunistic thief just walked by, grabbed the bag and walked away with it," Feld said.

The Hennepin County and Ramsey County court and criminal records involved in the theft were from 2004, as Feld was researching interrogations pertaining to cases that were closed, with no ongoing appeals.

Since the data is a decade old, it hasn't been possible to find current contact information for all the victims involved, Feld said, adding that no financial information was included in the records and that nobody has been defrauded as a result of the theft to the best of his knowledge.

"Credit monitoring is available to all the [victims], in the same way that Target is doing now with their data theft," Feld said. "But the thief had no actual way of knowing what the bag contained. If somebody opened the hard drive they would've just seen a bunch of PDF files, interrogation transcripts, police reports and stuff like that, and they most likely would've just deleted the files since they'd detract from the value of the hardware."

Feld decided to discontinue his book project after the theft.

(To find out why, click to page two.)

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13 comments
Jake Byers
Jake Byers

Why was he given private information by the courts to write a book? Social security numbers? Were consents signed by those who information was stolen? I'd sue him and the courts.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Sucks Barry.   I hope your next project goes better. 

Brian Bernatz
Brian Bernatz

It was probably the police department look to who gains from his learns not going public are system benefits from the revolving door of institutional system f you can show that it does not work not so good now this guy will be the focus and his knowledge for got about

Chelsea Louviere
Chelsea Louviere

My heart goes out to this professor and the people who have already been victimized once.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

Some lawyer will see dollar signs and sue the state and university for this on behalf of the victims, and maybe it is deserved when you really think about it. People are way too casual about private info storage these days.

Fred Grittner
Fred Grittner

Interesting that Hennepin County Courts drafted an order allowing him access. When I was at the Supreme Court, those type of research orders were signed by the Chief Justice. And that was after a staff attorney prepared an extensive agreement on how the data was to be kept and used.

Kris Palmer
Kris Palmer

I hope no one sues him, but someone probably will--more irony.

vitajex
vitajex

This.

Here's a REAL adult stepping up and taking responsibility for a mistake.

No namby-pamby "I'm sorry if anyone didn't like what I did/said" garbage.

No "maybe there really WAS a traffic study..."

No attempt at shifting blame or shirking accountability.

Feld 2016!!!

Mitch Vogel
Mitch Vogel

Um, it's called encryption and unless someone is specifically targeting you, very doubtful they would attempt cracking it. Glad to know that health care is required to encrypt but court/police documents don't have to be

aromanfaulkner
aromanfaulkner

Barry's a good man and talented researcher. What a bummer. 

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