I came across an interesting report today. It is an analysis of sexual crimes committed in New York City over a ten-year period. I want to share some of the highlights with you.
- Although sex crimes receive more public attention than other types of crime, they represent only a small fraction of the sum total coming to the attention of the Police Department.
- Most sex crimes are by first offenders; offenders charged with sex felonies are less inclined to have records than other types of felons.
- When sex offenders do have prior criminal records, it is usually for nonsexual crimes.
- Sex crime is not habitual behavior for the great majority of convicted sex offenders. Police Department fingerprint records disclose that only 7% of the offenders convicted of sex crimes in XXXX were again arrested on the same charge during the next twelve years.
- There is no universal type of sex offender. He is drawn from all age groups and from all social and economic classes.
- Youthful sex offenders, men between the ages of sixteen and thirty, are the most numerous. They account for 59% of the total convicted.
- Over half of the sex offenders (59%) convicted were charged with statutory rape, which involved a normal act of sexual intercourse with a girl who was under the statutory age.
- 13% of the offenders were convicted after trial, whereas 87% entered pleas of guilty.
By now you are probably asking, “So?” None of this is news to us.
Would you be surprised to know that these statements come from a New York City study, the Mayor’s Committee Reports on the Study of Sex Offenses, published in 1944? It is an analysis of police sexual crimes records from the years 1930-1939.
Other than being evidence that the re-offense rates we see today are not the result of the registry or anything else being done as a result of our current sex offender industry, what does this mean?
It means that it was known more than fifty years before registries swept the nation that most sexual crimes are committed by first offenders, those who are highly unlikely to have committed a previous sexual offense, and that it is not “habitual behavior” for the majority of those convicted.
It means that all of these years of public registration and wasted resources and destroyed lives need never have happened.
But then we already knew that too, didn’t we?
Thanks to Dave in the Philippines for finding and sending this report: it is from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Volume 34, Issue 5, Current notes (pp 324-26), 1944.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.