Answer the following questions based on this passage.
There is a common belief that the general population consists of a large group of law-abiding people and a small body of criminals. However, studies have shown that most people, when they are asked, remember having committed offenses for which they might have been sentenced if they had been apprehended. These studies of “self-reported” crimes have generally been of juveniles or young adults, mostly college and high school students. They uniformly show that delinquent or criminal acts are committed by people at all levels of society. Most people admit to relatively petty delinquent acts, but many report larcenies, auto thefts, burglaries, and assaults of a more serious nature.
One of the few studies of this type dealing with criminal behavior by adults was of sample of a sample of almost 1,700 persons, most of them from the State of New York. In this study, 1,020 males sand 670 females were asked which of 49 offenses they had committed. The list included felonies and misdemeanors, other than traffic offenses, for which they might have been sentences under the adult criminal code.
Ninety-one percent of the respondents admitted they had committed one or more offenses for which they might have received jail or prison sentences. Thirteen percent of the males admitted to grand larceny, 26 percent of auto theft, and 17 percent to burglary. Sixty-four percent of the males and 27 percent of the females committed at least one felony for which they has not been apprehended. Although some of these offenses may have been reported to the police by the victims and would thus have appear in official statistics as “crimes known to the police,” these offenders would not show up in official arrest statistics.
Such persons are part of the “hidden” offender group. They evidently at one time or another found themselves in situations that led them to violate the criminal law. However, most people do not persist in committing offenses. What is known today about offenders is confined almost wholly to those who have been arrested, tried and sentenced. The criminal justice process may be viewed as a large-scale screening system. At each stage it tries to sort out the better risks to return to the general population. The further along in the process that a sample of offenders is selected, the more likely they are to show major social and personal problems.
From arrest records, probation reports, and prison statistics a “portrait” of the offender emerges that progressively highlights the disadvantaged character of his life. The offender at the end of the road in prison is likely to be a member of the lowest social and economic groups in the country, poorly educated and perhaps unemployed, reared in broken home, and to have a prior criminal record.