Beatups

May 21st, 2007

Since we’ve been discussing beatups lately, here’s a classic example of the genre. MSNBC runs a story with the headline “Study links imprisoned veterans, sex crimes” and the lede (US pressparlance for opening sentence)

Military veterans in prison are more than twice as likely to have been convicted for sex offenses than nonveteran inmates, the government reports. Federal researchers cannot say why.

Reading on, it turns out that Federal researchers can and do say why. Military veterans are about half as likely to be in prison as non-veterans. So, the startling finding is that (drumroll) the imprisonment rate for sex crimes is about the same for veterans and non-veterans.

As one of the authors observes when she gets a word in halfway down the story

“I don’t want people to come away from this thinking veterans are crazed sex offenders. I want them to understand that veterans are less likely to be in prison in the first place.�

This is a mildly interesting finding, but presumably explained by demographics (veterans are, on average, older than the population at large, and active criminals younger) the fact that (except in desperate times like the present) the US military does not like to recruit people with criminal records.

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