Thursday, October 04, 2018

Improving statistics on sexual assault

Again, with regards to sexual assault, let's begin with these numbers.  Reality will differ somewhat, but let's go with it:
  • 1000 assaults reported anonymously
  • 310 assaults reported to police or other authorities
  • ~57 arrests
  • 11 referrals for prosecution
  • 6-30 false accusations
  • 7 felony convictions
  • 6 imprisonments
What is worth noting here is that of 310 assaults reported to police, ~ 255  (~80%) have insufficient evidence to arrest.  Of those arrests made, ~46 (again, 80%) have insufficient evidence to indict.  It would be interesting to learn where those false accusations are discovered--before or after arrest, before or after referrals for prosecution.  It makes a big difference in how extensive and painful that is for the victim of a false accusation.

We could argue that things will improve with "I Believe You", but our legal system rightly requires cross examination, and quite frankly believing every claim lends itself to false accusations. 

Perhaps better would be a good look at why ~60% of those who say they were assaulted don't report, and why 80% of those reports do not end up with an arrest, and why 90% of arrests for these crimes do not end up with jail time--80% do not even reach prosecutors.

And in reported cases, the simple fact is that there are a few basic reasons they go nowhere:
  • Police don't have the resources to investigate (e.g. unprocessed rape kits)
  • Prosecutors don't have the resources/motivation to indict
  • Insufficient evidence is provided to proceed.
The first two are fairly simple to solve; simply move police from traffic crimes to real crimes, and provide adequate resources to process rape kits and the like. 

The third is stickier, and it does suggest that the abysmal resolution rate for sexual assault could be improved if we simply taught all high school students how the justice system works.  Little things like how difficult he said/she said allegations are to try before a jury, the importance of corroborating and physical evidence, the importance of promptly reporting crimes to police, the importance of telling the truth about every matter (falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus), and the importance of working with investigators.

And, finally, the importance of prosecuting obvious perjury for maintaining witness credibility.  Yes, it's no fun bringing a report of any crime to the police, especially sexual assault, and cross examination is no picnic, either, but if you want crooks in jail where they belong, that's what you've got to do, and here's how you go about it.

But, ahem; didn't that used to be part of civics?  It seems as if a majority of our country has absolutely no clue about this, and that ought to scare the heck out of us.


Hearth said...


Is there anyone who is happy about the unprocessed rape kits? I think that's a disgrace and we could get behind a unified scream on that one.

If we taught everyone about how crime is processed, maybe it would encourage the collection (highly horrible) of that physical evidence, and encourage women to fight back a bit more, even if just to make sure you get some DNA under your fingernails.

Bike Bubba said...

Agreed. And again, I'd have thought that most Americans would have already been aware of this, but it's becoming ever more clear that I'm very, very wrong.

One thing I'd add is that when the Pareto is formed, a lot of the solution is going to be "don't get blind drunk, especially with people you don't trust." That's at least what people familiar with Title IX data are saying. And that'll go over like a lead balloon.