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A Matter of Fact

A 15-year study of 1,300 sex offenders who were arrested in 1973, conducted by the California Dept. of Justice, found that 19.7 percent were re-arrested for a subsequent sex-offense. That figure may seem low, so in a dazzling example of statistical hocus-pocus, the study concluded that "sex offenders were five times more likely than other violent offenders and six times more likely than all types of offenders to commit another sex offense." [duh? And drug offenders are more likely to commit another drug offense, robbers are more likely to commit another robbery?]

Correctional Services of Canada figures show that in 1995-96, 10,534 Canadian prisoners were released on some type of parole and of that number, 984 (9.3 percent) were later charged with a crime. Of the 11,488 prisoners paroled in 1994-95, 1,097 (9.5 percent) have been charged with a new crime.

In 1990, 75 percent of Texas prisoners considered for parole were released. In 1995, only 18 percent of potential parolees were released. The parole rate for sex offenders was 12 percent in 1991 and less than one percent (98 out of 11,782) in 1995.

While state prison populations increased at an annual average rate of 7.6 percent from 1980-94, the number of state prisoners serving time for sexual assault grew at an average annual rate of 15 percent.

According to the BJS report, "Sex Offenses and Offenders," in 1994 there were 99,300 sex offenders incarcerated in jails or prisons and another 134,300 on probation or parole. Sex offenders comprise 1 percent of federal prisoners, 9.7 percent of state prisoners, 3.4 percent of jail detainees, 3.6 percent of probationers, and 4 percent of parolees.

California claims to have 68,000 sex offenders who are supposed to register with local authorities, and says that it doesn't know where more than 20 percent of them are.

According to the Seattle police department, as of Jan 1, 1997, there were 11,017 registered sex offenders in Washington state. An additional 1,772 (14 percent of the total) are required to register but the state doesn't know where they are.

Marc Maur, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, estimates there are more than 50,000 people in the U.S. under some kind of "electronic monitoring" (ankle bracelets, etc.) out of roughly 3 million people on probation or parole.

There are currently about 3,660 men and 135 women serving life sentences in Michigan state prisons; 62 percent are black. In 1995, 3 Michigan lifers had their prison sentences commuted after serving an average of 19.3 years. Also in 1995, a total of 22 Michigan lifers died while imprisoned.

Michigan's "corrections" budget increased 1,953 percent (1,428 percent inflation-adjusted) between 1976 and 1996, from $65 million to $1.27 billion. In 1986 prison spending accounted for 6.4 percent of the state budget; in 1996 it consumed 15.1 percent of the state budget.

The number of serious crimes reported to U.S. police in the first half of 1996 decreased by 3 percent compared to the same period in 1995. If those preliminary figures hold for all of 1996, it will mark the fifth consecutive annual downturn in the UCR Crime Index.

The Justice Policy Institute released a study on the effects of 3-strikes laws on crime rates. From 1994-95 the violent crime rate dropped 4.6 percent in the 37 states without 3-strikes laws (at that time) and dropped only 1.7 percent in the 13 states that then had 3-strikes laws. Of those 13 states, eight actually had increases in violent crime. Since that study, eleven more states have enacted 3-strikes laws, bringing the total to 24.

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