Repeat Felons Dominate the Criminal Justice System—Most Convicted Felons do not Serve Time in Prison—Part One

Crime Statistics from Crime in America.Net

In the nation’s 75 largest counties, an estimated 58,100 defendants were charged with a felony offense in one month–May of 2006. About two-thirds of these felony defendants were charged with a drug or property offense, while 23% had charges for violent offenses, such as murder, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault.

These are some of the findings from the 2006 State Court Processing Statistics data collection program. Since 1988 the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice has collected data on felony cases processed in state courts in the nation’s 75 largest counties. Federal defendants and defendants charged with misdemeanor crimes are not included.

From this data one can extract conclusions about the inner workings of the justice system. In essence, the system is dominated by people charged with felonies who have significant prior contacts with the courts.

A felony is a serious violent or property crime that has the potential for sending a person to a state prison for one year or more and includes murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, drug trafficking or weapons offense (our definition).

A misdemeanor is a lesser crime that carries a possible sentence of less than one year in a county or city jail (our definition).

Using a beer bottle to hurt someone is a felony. Threatening someone with a beer bottle in your hand is a misdemeanor.

Please note that the majority of crime in America is not reported and the majority of reported crime does not result in an arrest and in many jurisdictions, a significant minority of crimes are not prosecuted. Thus if you reach the stage where the criminal justice system is prosecuting you for a felony, either you have done something very wrong or the system is tired of seeing you back in court.

77 percent of felony defendants have at least one prior arrest and 69 percent have multiple prior arrests. 61 percent have at least one conviction and 49 percent have multiple convictions.

35 percent of those charged with felonies have 10 or more prior arrests and another 17 percent have between 5 to 9 arrests, thus 52 percent of charged felons have been arrested and before the courts many times.

40 percent of those charged with burglary and motor vehicle theft have 10 or more arrests. 30 percent of violent offenders have 10 or more prior arrests.

40 percent of all felony convictions serve time in a state prison and 55 percent of those convicted for violent felonies serve time in state prisons. More serve less than six months in county jails.

Analysis: The criminal justice system is dominated by individuals with multiple arrests and multiple convictions. As a variety of criminological research indicates, approximately a third of felony defendants are considered high-risk offenders.

Note that this is not an indictment of all people caught up in the criminal justice system; most eventually break free of drugs and crime and go on to lead productive lives, especially as they get older.

But the data does indicate that high-risk offenders exist and need to be incarcerated in state prisons for long periods of time to move them beyond their peak years of criminality.


Crime in America.Net staff.



  1. welcome to the police state, prisons, jails, and rehabs are nothing more than indoctrination and training facilities. Where you learn bigger and better ways to do criminal buisness and make connections.

  2. latareus horton says:

    what if you just caught a charge this year for felony possesion of a firearm and you haven;t been in trouble for seven years and you just moved to illinois from mississippi and gas station attendant saw a weapon on you but it wasn,t visably and she called the police and you were arrested and charged with the same charge twice and the judge is lying about the setencing guide lines for the state of illinois what should i do i only had it on me for protection i was previously attacked with a weapon i do have hospital papers to prove that the judge told me today that the first offense 5 to 14 years if convicted i am employed now i need some help please i stay in peoria il my phonenumber is ______ i caught in eastpeoria which is tazewell county and i think the case based on descimination because im black please help me

    • Latareus: I suggest you contact the NAACP or the ACLU for the state of Illinois. Best, Adam.

  3. Joe Felonious says:

    Do you realize that it may be because of the employment problem once you become a felon? I did 13 months for an Assault and 13 months for a traffic offense. The jobs were horrible and didnt pay. I even thought about theft. ZGod have mercy on my soul. But never once did I break a law no matter how desirable.
    Anyway, if you guys need anything hit us up!


  1. clocks says:


    Repeat Felons Dominate the Criminal Justice System—Most Convicted Felons do not Serve Time in Prison—Part One

  2. says:

    Repeat Felons Dominate the Criminal Justice System—Most Convicted Felons do not Serve Time in Prison—Part One

  3. […] are arrested within three years of being released from prison. Even before they make it to prison, 35% of felons have 10 or more arrests on record. In the end, almost 50% of felons are convicted again for a crime similar to what they originally […]

  4. […] The number of repeat offenders is staggering for me, because I do not see the reason in letting a dog of a person bite again and again. I believe in putting such animals down to protect the public. Many violent crimes go unreported for fear of more violence. Here is solid information that backs my statements: Crime in […]

  5. […] not trust most people who say they have changed? Bear in mind, a high percentage (77% according to are repeat offenders. Despite the negative social stigma, pressure and harrassment, not to mention […]

  6. […] Repeat Felons Dominate the Criminal Justice System—Most Convicted … […]

%d bloggers like this: