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Sex Offenses and Offenders


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1997             202/633-3047


        Rapes and Sexual Assaults Decline

     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to a report
released today by the Justice Department's Bureau
of Justice Statistics (BJS), on any given day in
1994 almost 60 percent of the 234,000 convicted
sex offenders under the care, custody or control
of corrections officials in the United States were
on parole or probation.  An estimated 99,300
offenders convicted of rape or sexual assault were
in local jails or state or federal prisons, while
an estimated 134,300 convicted offenders were
under conditional supervision in the community,
such as parole (following imprisonment) or
     (On average for all offenders, there are
almost three offenders on probation or parole
supervision in the community for each offender in
jail or prison.  However, for those convicted of
rape or sexual assault, the ratio of those on
conditional release to those incarcerated is 1.4
to 1.)
     Sex offenders represent 4.7 percent of the
almost 5 million convicted offenders serving time
in federal or state prisons, or jails or on
probation or parole.  They comprise 1 percent of
the federal prison population, 9.7 percent of the
state prison population, 3.4 percent of the
nation's jail inmates, 3.6 percent of the
offenders on probation and 4 percent of the
offenders on parole.
     The BJS report, "Sex Offenses and Offenders,"
provides a comprehensive overview of current
knowledge about the incidence and prevalence of
rape and sexual assault, the characteristics of
the victims and perpetrators and the response of
the justice system to these crimes.  The report
draws on more than two dozen statistical programs
maintained by BJS and the Uniform Crime Reporting
Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
It is the first national estimate of the size of
the convicted sex offender population under the
jurisdiction of federal, state and local
correctional authorities.

Declines in rape and sexual assault

     According to BJS's National Crime
Victimization Survey, which obtains rape and
sexual assault information from both males and
females, the number of rapes and sexual assaults
reported by victims in 1995 declined significantly
from the number reported by victims in 1993.  The
nation's residents 12 years old and older reported
one rape or other violent sexual assault for every
624 men and women in the country during 1995.  Two
years earlier, the rate of violent sexual
victimization was one for every 435 residents.
     In 1995 the rate of rape among women was 10
percent lower than in 1990.  In addition, 97,000
rapes were recorded by law enforcement agencies in
1995, the lowest number since 1989 and the lowest
rate per capita since 1985.  Data are unavailable
for other sex offenses.
     During 1994 and 1995 only a third of the rape
and sexual assault victims said they reported the
offense to a law enforcement agency.  In 1995 law
enforcement agencies reported 34,650 arrests for
forcible rape and 94,500 arrests for other sex
offenses.  There were 50 arrests for rape and
other sex offenses per 100,000 United States

Children and teenagers are victims

     Per capita rates of rape and sexual assault
are highest among young men and women 16 to 19
years old, urban residents, and low-income
residents.  There is no significant difference in
the rate of rape or sexual assault on the basis of
     Data from police-recorded incidents of rape
in three states showed that 44 percent of rape
victims were younger than 18 years old, and
two-thirds of violent sex offenders serving time
in state prisons said their victims were younger
than 18.  An estimated 15 percent of imprisoned
rapists and 45 percent of those sentenced to
prison for other sexual assaults (statutory rape,
forcible sodomy and molestation) said their
victims were 12 years old or younger.
     Most imprisoned sex offenders knew their
victims.  Among rapists, about 30 percent said
their victims had been strangers, and of those
convicted of other sexual assaults, less than 15
percent said the victims were people with whom
they had no prior relationship.
     About two-thirds of the rapes and sexual
assaults reported by victims in the BJS survey
occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.  Almost 60
percent took place in the victim's home or at the
home of a friend, relative or neighbor.

Recidivism rates for sex crimes 
are higher among sex offenders

     Prior BJS follow-up studies of sex offenders
discharged from prison or sentenced to probation
showed that they have a generally lower rate of
rearrest than other violent offenders but are
substantially more likely than other violent
offenders to be rearrested for a new violent sex
offense.  For example, approximately 8 percent of
2,214 rapists released from prisons in 11 states
in 1983 were rearrested for a new rape within
three years, compared to approximately 1 percent
of released prisoners who served time for robbery
or assault. 
     Released rapists were found to be 10.5 times
as likely as non-rapists to be rearrested for
rape.  Offenders who served time for sexual
assault were 7.5 times as likely as those
convicted of other crimes to be rearrested for a
new sexual assault.  
     Today's report (NCJ-163392) was written by
BJS statistician Lawrence A. Greenfeld.  The
complete embargoed 44-page document is available
before 4:30 p.m., EST, Sunday, February 2, on the
Internet at: 

     It will be available to the general public
beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST, Sunday on BJS's
Internet home page by clicking on "What's new at
BJS."  The BJS webpage address is: 


     Additional BJS materials may be obtained from
the BJS fax-on-demand (301/251-5550) or calling
the BJS Clearinghouse on 1-800/732-3277.
     Information about the Justice Department's
Violence Against Women programs may be obtained on
the Internet at:


After hours contact:  Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

Date Published: February 2, 1997