Sexual Crime

"Sexual Crime" by Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. Alaska Justice Forum 25(1–2): 1 (Spring 2008-Summer 2008). This brief article introduces a special double-issue of the Alaska Justice Forum focusing on issues related to sexual crime. Reported figures indicated that Alaska consistently has an exceptionally high rate of sexual assault, with rates of forcible rape — 76 per 100,000 in the general population — over twice the national rate of 30.9. Because reports of sexual crimes tend to inflame emotions, it is important to ground public discussion in what is actually known about the crimes, victims, offenders, and law enforcement and prosecution efforts.

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This issue of the Alaska Justice Forum is devoted primarily to issues related to sexual crime in Alaska. Reported figures indicate that Alaska consistently has an exceptionally high rate of sexual assault. According to Crime in the United States, 2006, the annual FBI compilation of crime statistics, Alaska had a rate of reported forcible rape of 76 per 100,000 in the population—over twice the national rate of 30.9.

Sexual crime is treated very differently than it was twenty years ago. There is more open discussion of the problem; criminal punishment for offenders has become increasingly severe; and the needs of victims receive more attention.

Because reports of sexual crimes tend to inflame emotions, it is important to ground public discussion in what is actually known about the crimes, the victims, the offenders, and law enforcement and prosecution efforts. The overall rates of reported sexual assault have been available for years through figures maintained by the FBI and various local police agencies. Now, as a result of research conducted over the last several years by the Justice Center and other agencies, a more detailed picture of the nature of the problem is beginning to emerge.

The articles in this issue focus on various aspects of the problem of sexual assault—the nature of the crime, victims and suspects; case prosecution; offender recidivism; public safety and rehabilitation.

“Case Attrition of Sexual Violence Offense Reported to the Alaska State Troopers” looks at case processing of sexual assault cases in rural villages.

“Sexual Assaults Reported to Alaska State Troopers” provides a description of the sexual assault problem in communities served by the Alaska State Troopers, as well as some data on case processing.

“Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations in Alaska” presents the results of a project conducted by the Justice Center and Forensic Nurse Services. The project used information from sexual assault nurse examinations to investigate how a victim’s condition at the time of an assault—intoxicated or sober—might be related to injuries sustained during the assault and what relation the presence or absence of injuries bore to the prosecution of the case. In addition, the article presents descriptive details of the assault cases contained in the study sample, which included cases from across the state—Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Soldotna, and Homer.

A brief analysis of sex offender recidivism conducted through the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center of the Justice Center appears in “Recidivism of Alaska Sex Offenders Released from Corrections Facilities in 2001.”

“Revisiting Alaska’s Sex Offender Registration and Public Notification Statute” provides a look at the parameters of one of the most prominent tools for addressing the problem of sexual assault—the sex offender registry.

Finally, a bibliography lists additional studies and articles that deal with the issue. Many of these earlier pieces provide data on the problem as it manifests itself in Anchorage. Most are available on-line.