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My Offense Type and Subtype Modifications

Introduction
Offense subtypes were proposed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics about 1980 and Iowa adopted a
modified version of their proposed set. There have been many changes since then and in my opinion
the current set of subtypes is incomplete and in some cases misleading. In this report I will use a
modified set of offense types and subtypes.

Offense Type Modifications
Sex offenses are listed under violent or public order if they are not violent offenses. I modified the
offense types by adding sex offenses as a type that includes all sex offenses. Habitual offenders are
listed under the other offense type and most of those listed were habitual offenders. I left it that way but
added a habitual subtype.

Subtype Modifications
As mentioned above a habitual subtype was added because in 2014 habitual offenders (two or more
convictions at the Class C or Class D felony level) were required to serve a 3 year mandatory minimum
sentence.

There was only one subtype for sex offenses. The number of subtypes was increased by adding Sex-
AB, Sex-CD, Sex-M, Sex-special and Sex-registration. In Iowa the felony classes are A-D with the
sentence for Class A life without parole and five year maximum sentence for Class D. For Sex-AB the
offense class was either A or B and similarly for Sex-CD classes C or D. Sex-M indicates the offense
class is either an aggravated or serious misdemeanor.

Some sex offenders are given either five year or lifetime parole and if they violate parole they must
serve a mandatory minimum sentence and that is designated by Sex-special. Sex-registration designates
the sex offenders who have violated registration requirements.

There was only one subtype for assaults. One of the many factors responsible for the rapid growth in
the prison population between 1975 and 2008 was the increase in the number of inmates charged with
assault and because there assault causing injury, assault involving a weapon, domestic assaults, child
endangerment and other assaults it is difficult to understand why that happened when there is only one
subtype. I modified the assault subtypes to include ASLT-Injury, ASLT-Weapon, ASLT-Child-E.,
ASLT-Domestic and ASLT-Other.

Female Subtype Distribution

Table 1: Six Most Frequent Female Subtypes
Offense Type-Subtype Number of Commits Percent
Drug-Trafficking 168 24.1
Property-Theft 86 12.4
Violent-Homicide 73 10.5
Property-Forgery/Fraud 64 9.2
Property-Burglary 58 8.3
Violent-ASLT* 58 8.3
Totals 507 72.8

* Violent-ASLT is the total for all ASLT subtypes.
Figure 1: Female subtype distribution. The offense types at the bottom are in alphabetical order and the
subtypes within an offense type are listed in descending order of commitments. The color of the bar
denotes the sentence type.

Figure 1 shows the subtype distribution for all female inmates at the end of FY17. The bar color
denotes the sentence type. There are very few life sentences and the most frequent mandatory minimum
sentences are for drug trafficking, habitual, homicide and robbery. For almost 4% of the females the
most serious charge was child endangerment and some of those were serving mandatory minimum
sentences.

Figure 2 shows that violent crimes have low admission rates but they stay in prison a long time. In
contrast drug and property crimes have high admission rates but they are released after short stays.
Failure to take into account length of stay is partly responsible for misconceptions about the nature of
prison populations.
Figure 2: Comparison of female subtype distributions. The blue bars denote admissions during FY16
and the red bars denote inmates held five years or longer.

Male Subtype Distribution

Table 2: Six Most Frequent Male Subtypes
Offense Type-Subtype Number of Commits Percent
Drug-Trafficking 1,082 14.6
Violent-Homicide 926 12.5
Violent-ASLT* 727 9.8
Sex-Sex-CD 706 9.6
Property-Burglary 606 8.2
Violent-Robbery 578 7.8
Totals 4,019 54.4
* Violent-ASLT is the total for all ASLT subtypes.
Figure 3: Male subtype distribution. The offense types at the bottom are in alphabetical order and the
subtypes within an offense type are listed in descending order of commitments. The color of the bar
denotes the sentence type.

Figure 3 shows that life sentences were for homicide, kidnapping, the most serious sex crimes and first
degree burglary that is classified as violent crime rather than a property crime. The male mandatory
minimum sentences are for drug trafficking, habitual, theft, sex offenses, homicide, robbery, assaults
and kidnapping. With the exception of class B felonies the mandatory minimum sentences for drug
trafficking and habitual offenders are short and those for violent forcible felonies are long. However,
penalty enhancements are an aggravating factor that requires additional information to take into
account.

Figure 4 shows that the most frequent admission subtypes are drug trafficking, burglary, theft, habitual
and domestic assault. The most frequent long hold are for homicide, sex crimes, robbery and
kidnapping. The long holds for drug trafficking are most likely a combination of class felonies and
penalty enhancements.
Figure 4: Comparison of male subtype distributions. The blue bars denote admissions during FY16 and
the red bars denote inmates held five years or longer.

Data source: Iowa Department of Corrections end of fiscal year prison population report for FY 2017.
Website: www.iowaprisoninfo.com
Date posted: 08/06/18