More vet inmates are sex offenders.

Surprise, surprise. A study released yesterday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that more veteran inmates are sex offenders than non-vets:

Veterans are half as likely to be incarcerated as those without service experience in the first place, researchers found, but 23 percent of the veterans in prison were sex offenders, compared with 9 percent of nonveteran inmates.
The numbers mirror a trend seen in military prisons, where populations have declined but sexual assault remains the most common crime.

The researchers said they couldn’t come to any conclusion as to why this is the case. Me thinks they should be talking to Cynthia Enloe.

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18 Comments

  1. BEG
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    You know, it wasn’t until I looked through your link to the google results on Cynthia Enloe that I realized you meant “vets” as in “military vets” not “vets” as in “veterans of the prison system,” eg people who have been in and out of prison more than once…

  2. Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been looking however casually at other BJS data recently, and I’m not very comfortable with how they state their conclusions, what they ignore, etc.
    Here’s an example -
    http://rudeclerk.blogspot.com/2007/05/doj-scandal-of-different-sort.html
    Now I take any of their work with strong skepticism, but thanks for highlighting this study and especially Cynthia Enloe.

  3. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Ummm….
    Hold the phone.
    So, the dull, simple and obvious conclusion, that the rates of sexual offenses by veterans is (roughly) the same as it is for the general population, isn’t enough?
    100,000 vets => 630 inmates => ~145 sex offenders? (p ~= 0.0015)
    100,000 control => 1390 inmates => ~125 sex offenders? (p ~= 0.0012)
    I’d need more data than what’s in TFA, but I’m skeptical that this is anything but support for the null hyp. The small difference can be accounted for as noise.
    The whole point about rape in war and war in general is that war corresponds to a suspension of ‘usual’ social and moral norms. Rules like “don’t rape anyone” are ignored, just like the rules that say “don’t shoot strangers”, “don’t burn down houses” and “don’t blow shit up”.
    Upon re-entry to mainstream society veterans suffer all kinds of cognitive dislocation, but the problem here, IMO, is less sexism, and more the nature of war. And inspite of those problems the evidence from this study suggests that overall, veterans are no more likely to be sexual offenders than any other random male.

  4. Meredith
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Paul Brown: The whole point about rape in war and war in general is that war corresponds to a suspension of ‘usual’ social and moral norms.
    Since when? The whole problem with rape in war is that it supports conventional social and moral norms.

  5. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Meredith -
    I don’t know where you’re from, but “shoot strangers”, “burn down houses”, and “blow shit up” are not ‘conventional social and moral norms’ where I’m from.
    And I reject utterly your implication that the kind of widespread abuse and rape we see in war zones represents anyone’s norm.
    Enloe’s argues–and I buy her argument–that war can’t be understood (and confronted) if you view it through too contemporary a lens. Sure, Iraq is about ‘oil’ and ‘domestic politics’. But as an example of a larger class of things it’s fundamentally about (as Margaret Mead put it?) ‘old men sending young men to die so that the old men get easier access to the young women’.
    That’s what makes war a feminist issue.

  6. Meredith
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know where you’re from, but “shoot strangers”, “burn down houses”, and “blow shit up” are not ‘conventional social and moral norms’ where I’m from.
    First of all, you’re mistaking actions for social and moral norms.
    Second, read the article. Her argument isn’t merely that war doesn’t make sense through a contemporary lens. It’s that gender-coded — and gender-biased — military rituals give America’s ostensibly non-militarized institutions “respectability and credibility.” In doing so, militaristic social and moral norms are upheld within American society as a whole.

  7. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    You’re kidding right?
    Are “shooting strangers”, “burning down houses” and “blowing shit up” moral or social norms where you’re from?
    Folk who claim “militaristic social and moral norms are upheld within American society as a whole” don’t know the first thing about what it is that distinguishes military institutions from the societies that sponsor them. This ‘gender coding’ you point to is present in most if not all social institutions – sport, media, politics, the workplace. It isn’t what makes the military special.
    Armies are conceived and directed at the single purpose of fighting wars, killing people, and winning. That founding instinct perverts their sociology – profoundly. It requires that these institutions break soldiers of the mental and moral habits they acquire growing up.
    The political masters who point soldiers on the other hand, their entire mindset is dictated by the “social and moral norms are upheld within American society as a whole.” (I think it’s way more broad than US society, BTW. This is true of any army, in any place or time).
    Look – I’m trying (I think) to make a very narrow point. War is a thankfully rare experience. You can’t build any kind of lasting institutions in circumstances where horror and destruction are the norm. But to permit soldiers to endure that experience, and to have some hope that they return sane, requires dismantling and rebuilding their consciousness. Armies work vey hard to compartmentalize violence (that’s why a lot of a soldier’s life centers on ritual).
    However, confronting that violence (opposing it, in my case) requires looking at it and discerning very clearly precisely what it is. The violence we (as a society) do to soldiers is terrible. It is (I think) less terrible than the violence these men (and women) then commit against other men and women. It would be even more grevious if it turned out that our original violence begat further social harm once the fighing finishes (it does, btw, but the evidence in TFA suggests sexual violence is no more of a problem than the background).
    Again, I find myself slighly more passionate about this topic as a result of a friendship I have with someone who became a soldier, and is now a veteran. But please – don’t look at Hollywood, and start making pronouncements about the military.

  8. USMCBowker
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Let me speak from the inside out. I’m both a woman and a Marine Veteran. I’ve served both pre and post 9/11. Like my sister Marines, I’ve worked twice as hard for half the respect and I was lucky enough to serve with some of the finest examples of the Marine Corps. Most of which were women!
    I can’t speak for the Army, Navy, and Air Force- but we Marines train EXACTLY the same as the men. We run the same distance, we do the same situps, we fire the same rifles at the same targets with the same bullets.
    We are NEVER automatic equals, regardless of what your rank suggests or how much work you do. It is an unspoken rule that you must work and work twice as hard in order to gain the respect of your male counterparts. But once you have it, they will forever have your back.
    So this idea, whether comical satire or truth, that service men are more prone to committing rape than civilian men is b.s. If anything I’d say it was equal and even that is a stretch. There will always be people who are the bad seeds regardless of where they are placed. But every man I served with had respect for me- and my sisters because we earned it.
    This isn’t to say they have respect for all women Marines afterwards. We could only boost our OWN measure of worth before them, as sexist as it sounds. Each woman had to carry her own weight and then some. But we did it. And continue to do it.
    Each one of my guys (I was a SGT and outranked all of them) was a trusted individual that I had no problems walking down a dark alley with at night.
    People must think of the military as trained attack dogs. We have one mindset and that is to kill our target. There is no alternative. However, when rape is introduced as ‘acceptable’ military ‘procedure’ know that it is NOT ok with the MAJORITY group!!
    I can tell you that as loyal as they were to me, and I to them- had I ever EVER heard of a case where rape was committed against a fellow Marine, or a civilian- I’d have taken their heads off myself. And I can GARENTEE my sister Marines would have done the same.
    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m only saying that those men are good men (most of them). And those that are shitbags… well they’ll be dealt with eventually. I wish it was sooner, rather than later.
    Believe me, a male Marine who has fucked up that bad doesn’t stand a chance against angry FEMALE Marines! Which makes me very proud that my sisters are still fighting both to keep the Corps strong, and to keep their male asses in line!

  9. USMCBowker
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Let me speak from the inside out. I’m both a woman and a Marine Veteran. I’ve served both pre and post 9/11. Like my sister Marines, I’ve worked twice as hard for half the respect and I was lucky enough to serve with some of the finest examples of the Marine Corps. Most of which were women!
    I can’t speak for the Army, Navy, and Air Force- but we Marines train EXACTLY the same as the men. We run the same distance, we do the same situps, we fire the same rifles at the same targets with the same bullets.
    We are NEVER automatic equals, regardless of what your rank suggests or how much work you do. It is an unspoken rule that you must work and work twice as hard in order to gain the respect of your male counterparts. But once you have it, they will forever have your back.
    So this idea, whether comical satire or truth, that service men are more prone to committing rape than civilian men is b.s. If anything I’d say it was equal and even that is a stretch. There will always be people who are the bad seeds regardless of where they are placed. But every man I served with had respect for me- and my sisters because we earned it.
    This isn’t to say they have respect for all women Marines afterwards. We could only boost our OWN measure of worth before them, as sexist as it sounds. Each woman had to carry her own weight and then some. But we did it. And continue to do it.
    Each one of my guys (I was a SGT and outranked all of them) was a trusted individual that I had no problems walking down a dark alley with at night.
    People must think of the military as trained attack dogs. We have one mindset and that is to kill our target. There is no alternative. However, when rape is introduced as ‘acceptable’ military ‘procedure’ know that it is NOT ok with the MAJORITY group!!
    I can tell you that as loyal as they were to me, and I to them- had I ever EVER heard of a case where rape was committed against a fellow Marine, or a civilian- I’d have taken their heads off myself. And I can GARENTEE my sister Marines would have done the same.
    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m only saying that those men are good men (most of them). And those that are shitbags… well they’ll be dealt with eventually. I wish it was sooner, rather than later.
    Believe me, a male Marine who has fucked up that bad doesn’t stand a chance against angry FEMALE Marines! Which makes me very proud that my sisters are still fighting both to keep the Corps strong, and to keep their male asses in line!

  10. USMCBowker
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Let me speak from the inside out. I’m both a woman and a Marine Veteran. I’ve served both pre and post 9/11. Like my sister Marines, I’ve worked twice as hard for half the respect and I was lucky enough to serve with some of the finest examples of the Marine Corps. Most of which were women!
    I can’t speak for the Army, Navy, and Air Force- but we Marines train EXACTLY the same as the men. We run the same distance, we do the same situps, we fire the same rifles at the same targets with the same bullets.
    We are NEVER automatic equals, regardless of what your rank suggests or how much work you do. It is an unspoken rule that you must work and work twice as hard in order to gain the respect of your male counterparts. But once you have it, they will forever have your back.
    So this idea, whether comical satire or truth, that service men are more prone to committing rape than civilian men is b.s. If anything I’d say it was equal and even that is a stretch. There will always be people who are the bad seeds regardless of where they are placed. But every man I served with had respect for me- and my sisters because we earned it.
    This isn’t to say they have respect for all women Marines afterwards. We could only boost our OWN measure of worth before them, as sexist as it sounds. Each woman had to carry her own weight and then some. But we did it. And continue to do it.
    Each one of my guys (I was a SGT and outranked all of them) was a trusted individual that I had no problems walking down a dark alley with at night.
    People must think of the military as trained attack dogs. We have one mindset and that is to kill our target. There is no alternative. However, when rape is introduced as ‘acceptable’ military ‘procedure’ know that it is NOT ok with the MAJORITY group!!
    I can tell you that as loyal as they were to me, and I to them- had I ever EVER heard of a case where rape was committed against a fellow Marine, or a civilian- I’d have taken their heads off myself. And I can GARENTEE my sister Marines would have done the same.
    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m only saying that those men are good men (most of them). And those that are shitbags… well they’ll be dealt with eventually. I wish it was sooner, rather than later.
    Believe me, a male Marine who has fucked up that bad doesn’t stand a chance against angry FEMALE Marines! Which makes me very proud that my sisters are still fighting both to keep the Corps strong, and to keep their male asses in line!

  11. Itazura
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Forgive me honey for commenting here again, but I couldn’t hold back.
    “War is a thankfully rare experience.”
    If only that were true. I have only been in the military a little over 11 years, and I have already experienced war 3 times. (I have not been to Iraq, but I was told not to give information out on my career). At the moment wars are raging in the Philippines, Thailand, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Somalia, Colomba, and in a few other places, and soon it will probably start raging elsewhere.
    However Paul, the rest of your argument I do agree with.
    Reading the Bureau of Justice Statistical analysis, I have learned that veterans are less likely to commit crimes than men who do not have military service experience. I am glad that I can show that study to my future civilian employers. But veterans sexually assault at the same rate as men who have never been in the military.
    I have skimmed through Enloe’s articles, and I will not give my opinion of her studies, but it seemed to me that her positions are based more on her opinions than on actual research (that’s just from the short bit I read of her stuff though).
    I do have one theory to add though. I think rape or sexual assault is more culturally motivated, rather than from a criminal mind frame (please read rape culture from that). Veterans are heavily trained to follow the rules while in service, which is why they are less likely to break laws when they become veterans. But servicemen are not trained to be kind lovers or good husbands.
    America has the highest prisoner incarceration rate in the world (Belarus is a distant second), and I think it is in part because America has a rape culture.
    Who’s to blame for the rape culture? I’ll let you guys decide.

  12. Fenriswolf
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Interesting YouDontOwnMe. As a woman who fits in best in ulta-masculine cultures, what you say rings true with me
    It also feed my pet theory (sorry it’s OT): I’m in the Naval Reserve (in NZ – it’s pretty half-arsed, but there you are), and in our military women and men are kept as apart as humanly possible. Thus I have met so many senior ratings who act like teenagers when it comes to women.
    I believe that if men and women were forced to work together, if your messes were divided by branch rather than sex, rape would drop
    It’s awfully hard to rape someone you know as a person. Two days of 18 hours training together, getting changed together, and you get over boobies pretty damn quick
    It wouldn’t eliminate it. Women joining the military do need to “prove” their manliness to be excepted. Some men would take advantage
    I still think that strict segregation dehumanises the other sex and makes them more desirable
    OK, I’m sorry for taking this over…

  13. Meredith
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Paul: Are “shooting strangers”, “burning down houses” and “blowing shit up” moral or social norms where you’re from?
    Is simply repeating your previous statement instead of directly confronting the argument against it considered a valid argument where you come from?
    Paul: Folk who claim “militaristic social and moral norms are upheld within American society as a whole” don’t know the first thing about what it is that distinguishes military institutions from the societies that sponsor them.
    So then you don’t agree with anything Enloe writes?
    BTW, ad hominem attacks aren’t valid arguments. Learn how to construct a valid argument — otherwise, you’re just wasting our time. (Which is why I didn’t bother to read your anti-feminist garbage past this sentence.)

  14. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Umm, what?
    You seem to be arguing, on the one hand, that wartime conduct ‘supports conventional social and moral norms’ (in your words). And when the kind of conduct that characterizes military violence is described, you claim that
    “… you’re mistaking actions for social and moral norms.”
    I asked you the question hoping you’d clarify your point. Am I wrong in my description of these actions? Or is it your position that “shooting strangers”, “burning down houses”, “blowing shit up” and pillage are moral or social norms? Or are you saying that actions don’t matter; only ‘moral and social norms’ do?
    Which is why I didn’t bother to read your anti-feminist garbage past this sentence.
    You don’t read what I write. Yet you’re happy to label it ‘anti-feminist garbage’.
    As for the charge of ad hominem, please quote a sentence in my previous posts which takes you as its subject.

  15. USMCBowker
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Fenris, you are right. Granted there is some areas of complete segregation due to MOS (job) description. Women can’t (as of yet) be infantry, tankers, or snipers. However, I believe there are women out there who can (and want) to do those jobs. Regardless, the female Marines train exactly the same as the men, but unlike other branches BOOTCAMP is the ONLY time we are segregated (besides certian jobs as I’ve said.) After that, women must work to prove themselves.
    I agree it is much harder to rape someone you know as a person. I fully trusted my guys to not only respect me, but to have my back if I needed it. Needless to say, I was never let down.
    I’m not your ‘typical’ Marine. (Please don’t conjure images of a ‘butch’, masculine woman). I’m actually the exact opposite, so when it came down to earning respect guys at first really didn’t know what to make of me. However, it just goes to show that regardless of size, shape, prettiness, ugliness, we women can and do exceed in ALL types of work careers.
    And BECAUSE the US Government allows women to enter active duty service (to include combat)it is a HUGE insult to think that our government pushes under the perverbial carpet the rape cases in combat zones. It is ALSO infuriating to think someone believes that because Veterans have been trained to think DIFFERENTLY about war, combat, and life-taking they forget that the number one trait instilled in a Vet is DISCIPLINE. I stand on my case that far more men LACKING discipline commit more violent crimes (to include rape) than those that have served and been instilled with a sense of it.

  16. Kimmy
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know much about the military, never having been in it. But it seems to me that being okay with women who’ve proved themselves to your standards and being okay with women who haven’t are two very different things.
    To say that a soldier respects a woman who is also a soldier is great. However, if you have to be just like him (in fact, twice as tough) in order to earn his respect, what does that say about how he’ll be towards the rest of the female population?
    The female soldiers may have earned their stripes in the eyes of the men (although the previous postings on this site about rape within the military would argue that claim). But what about the rest of us? If you had to work so hard to get their respect, what are we supposed to do to get them to see us as equal human beings?

  17. Paul G. Brown
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    BTW Meredith, Enloe’s argument is not your argument. In fact, her point (in the Nation piece at lest) is the opposite of yours.
    She argues that US social norms come to emulate or reflect military norms, not the other way around. She says, for example, that ‘Gender-coded militaristic rituals are now so integrated into the culture, they’re nearly invisible–which is why they’re so important to re-examine.’ She points to public rituals like fly-bys, and I could add a ton more; marching bands, camouflage fashions, and hierarchical workplace organization.
    So would you care to clarify why you cited the Enloe piece in response to my algebra?

  18. Thebastidge
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Other possible factors:
    1.The miltiar classes more crimes as sexual offenses than civilian courts: adultery, for example.
    2. Some of the crimes of violence against spouses that I have heard of result in some part from the stresses of family separation: adultery, again.
    3. There’s a better support system in place for military spouses, making them more likely to report. Also, the intimate living arrangments of the military and military base communities make it harder to hide things from authority.
    4. Military courts are more likely to throw harsher (longer) sentencing
    these are just some simple possibilities off the top of my head. One should really be more critical of radnom statistics. 90% of them are made up, you know.

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