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This report reviews the literature regarding female sex offenders, and examines the characteristics of convicted female sex offenders in Washington State. Research literature indicates that the prevalence of sex offenses committed by females is relatively low, partly because of underreporting.
In the fifth annual Family Income Study interview administered in 1992, women were asked if they had been physically or sexually abused as adults. Physical abuse of women by spouses occurs at least once in 20 to 30 percent of households nationwide. National research on the sexual abuse of adult women is scarce; however, studies indicate that at least 20 percent of women have experienced sexual abuse and assault at least once during their lifetime. This issue brief specifically addresses physical and sexual abuse of women on public assistance as adults. Family Income Study survey findings show an alarmingly high rate of physical and sexual abuse of women on public assistance in Washington State. Over half of the women surveyed reported being physically and/or sexually abused as adults. The majority of those who reported being sexually abused also reported being physically abused by a spouse or boyfriend.
A recent study conducted in Washington State of young women who were pregnant or parenting teens found that 66 percent of the young women surveyed who became pregnant as teenagers were sexually abused (Boyer and Fine 1992). The high rate of abuse found in this study prompted new questions, relating to physical and sexual abuse, to be asked in the Family Income Study's fifth year interviews of public assistance and at risk comparison samples. This paper reports on findings concerning the physical and sexual abuse of women on public assistance in Washington State while they were growing up. Sexual abuse in the Family Income Study questionnaire was defined as: unwanted touching, sexual assault, or rape by a family member or others. Physical abuse was defined as: being hit, kicked, punched, or beaten up, other than the occasional spanking, by parents or guardians.
The effect of prison or jail sentences on recidivism is an important issue to those concerned with public safety and the cost-effectiveness of putting convicted offenders in prison. This paper summarizes theories and empirical studies on the effect of sentencing on recidivism. Study findings indicate that for some offenders, incarceration and longer confinement seem to increase the risk of recidivism. For other offenders, the likelihood of re-offense will either be unaffected or reduced by longer terms of incarceration. Furthermore, early-release programs do not appear to affect overall recidivism rates.
Employment was emphasized as a major pathway off welfare in the federal reform of the AFDC program. For this report, five years of Family Income Study data were analyzed to determine which factors affected the likelihood of employment for women who received public assistance.
The majority of women who receive AFDC are short-term assistance users and leave AFDC within two years. Long-term users of public assistance, however, present a dilemma to both state and national policymakers in terms of cost and perceived "welfare dependency." The federal Family Support Act and its Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program now directs states to focus upon education, training, job search, and job development activities for potential long-term users of AFDC. Using five years of Family Income Study data, this study compared the characteristics of short-term and long-term users of AFDC in Washington State during the period of 1988-1992.
Policy debates regarding sentencing for sex offenders frequently focus on recidivism rates and treatment techniques. This paper addresses the financial aspects of sentencing, comparing the costs of three sentencing options in Washington State.
By looking at the changing economic circumstances of Washington families over a four-year period, we found changes in annual family income to be common. Such changes in income are called "income mobility." Over the period we studied, increases in family incomes were more common than decreases; national studies have reported similar findings. Our state's longitudinal study, the Family Income Study, allows us to see income mobility over four years (1988-1991) among low-income families in Washington State.
This information on public assistance households is from the Family Income Study, a five-year longitudinal survey of persons receiving, or at risk of receiving, public assistance. The study was requested by the 1987 Legislature.
This paper uses Family Income Study data to examine child care use among public assistance households and a comparison group of households at risk of receiving assistance in 1988. To illustrate more current child care patterns, we describe child care use of those households from the original 1988 public assistance sample that also received public assistance in 1991.