The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't , and How to Fix It

By Gerhard Falk | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
PROSECUTING VIOLENT
CRIME AND SEX OFFENSES

SOME CRIME STATISTICS

The true extent of violent crime in the United States is unknown. This is so simply because many crimes are unknown to the police or anyone other than the perpetrator and the victim. Several reasons exist for this “dark statistic” of crime: Some crimes, like rape, remain unreported for fear of embarrassment. Other crimes are unreported to the police because the victim himself or herself was involved in a crime. Sometimes such organized crime gangs as La Costa Nostra terrify their victims into keeping quiet. Many victims of crimes—children, old people in nursing homes, the sick, and others—do not know how to access the district attorney or the police and therefore cannot report the crimes committed against them.

Consequently, prosecution of violent offenders is limited, ipso facto, because prosecutors are not called on to deal with the many offenses never brought to their attention. In addition, the offices of district attorneys are usually understaffed and overworked, making it difficult for the attorneys to prosecute all those crimes that do end up as complaints in their offices.

An overview of violent crimes in the United States may be gained from the Uniform Crime Reports issued by the FBI. Those reports generally reflect crimes known to the police two years previous to publication of a report. For example, statistics for 2006 are published in 2008, and these reveal that in 2006 there were 17,034 murders known to the police in the United States. These murders constituted a rate of 5.7 per 100,000 inhabitants of the country, with a population in 2006 of over 299 million. Other violent crimes included 92,455 forcible rapes, 860,853 aggravated assaults, and 447,403 robberies, which are crimes against person and property.1 In general, violent crime in the United States declined over the 10 years ending in 2007. Between January and December 2007, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 1.7 percent. Urban areas saw a decline of 2.4 percent for murder alone.

-45-

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The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't , and How to Fix It
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chapter 1 - The American Police 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Brief History of Criminal Prosecution in the United States 23
  • Chapter 3 - Prosecuting Violent Crime and Sex Offenses 45
  • Chapter 4 - Prosecuting Wwhite- Collar Crime 69
  • Chapter 5 - Defending the Accused 89
  • Chapter 6 - The American Jury 109
  • Chapter 7 - Courts and Judges 129
  • Chapter 8 - The Prison-Industrial Complex 151
  • Chapter 9 - Probation and Parole 173
  • Chapter 10 - The Death Penalty- Non Omnis Moriar 193
  • Epilogue 215
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 241
  • About the Author 251
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