More than half of those convicted of violent felonies in large urban areas between 1990 and 2002 had previous convictions, the U.S. Justice Department reports. Nearly four in 10, or 38 percent, had some type prior felony conviction, while an additional 18 percent had a prior misdemeanor conviction, the Bureau of Justice Statistics said. Fifteen percent were guilty of a prior violent felony — murder, rape, robbery or assault. Rapists were least likely to have a prior conviction, reports the Associated Press.
The study released Sunday by the Justice Department examined crime figures from the nation’s 75 most populous counties, ranging from Los Angeles and Pima County, Ariz., to Pinellas County, Fla., and Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington. About half of all the violent crimes reported nationwide occur in these areas, the report said. The study found that 70 percent of violent felons convicted during the period had a prior arrest record, though not necessarily a conviction, and that 57 percent had at least one prior arrest for a felony. Sixty-seven percent of murderers and 73 percent of those convicted of robbery or assault had an arrest record.