- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006


More than half of those convicted of violent crimes in large urban areas from 1990 to 2002 had previous convictions, the government reported yesterday.

Nearly four in 10, or 38 percent, of those convicted of violent crimes had previous felony convictions.

An additional 18 percent had prior misdemeanor convictions, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported.

More than half of those guilty of assault, robbery or murder in that period had at least one prior felony or misdemeanor conviction. Rapists were least likely to already have a conviction record.

Of those with felony convictions from 1990 to 2002, 15 percent were guilty of prior violent felonies — murder, rape, robbery or assault.

The study released yesterday by the Justice Department examined crime figures from the nation’s 75 most populous counties, ranging from Los Angeles County and Pima County, Ariz., to Pinellas County, Fla., and Montgomery County, Md.

About half of all the violent crimes reported nationwide occur in these areas, the report said.

Nearly all the violent felons, 91 percent, were male; 41 percent were black.

The majority of the convicted robbers and murderers were younger than 25 — 56 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Forty percent of those convicted of assault and one-third of the rapists were younger than 25.

Youthful offenders were not a significant percentage of those committing violent acts.

Ten percent of the murderers and 12 percent of robbers were 18 and younger. In the categories of assault and rape, 4 percent of each of those crimes were committed by those younger than 18.

A total of 180,298 crimes were committed from 1990 to 2002, but the largest category involved drugs. More than 69,000 drug crimes were reported, for 38.3 percent of the total.

Property crimes were next, with more than 59,000 offenses or 32.7 percent of the total.

Violent crimes ranked third, with more than 32,000 cases for 17.7 percent of the total.

When it came time to judge cases and hand down punishment, most violent felons, 88 percent, were convicted through a guilty plea rather than at trial. Most, 81 percent, also were incarcerated.

At the time of their convictions, 59 percent of violent felons were represented by public defenders and 21 percent had private attorneys.

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