History of Rape, Prevention, Crime and Punishment Part 3 State and Federal Laws

About the state and federal laws in place to protect those who have been raped and punish those that commit the crime of rape.

Rape Control Fails to Halt Increased Rape Rate

Some Control Efforts. Although only a beginning, some developments are worth mentioning: Four States (California, Florida, Iowa, and Michigan) passed new laws in the summer of 1974 which are expected to reduce substantially the ordeal a rape victim goes through in court; they declared introduction of the woman's past sexual history (except with the defendant) inadmissible. The California law, introduced by Sen. Alan Robbins (Dem.--No. Hollywood), added a new Section (782) to the Evidence Code as follows: ".... Evidence of specific instances of sexual contact of the victim involving any person other than the defendant shall be inadmissible."

Five other States (Washington, Kansas, Ohio, Nevada, and Pennsylvania) are expected to pass similar legislation by 1976.

In Massachusetts, a bill was passed requiring police departments to set up special units to investigate and prosecute rape cases. In New York, there is now a State Crime Victim's Compensation Board. Under the direction of a supervising investigator, the board deals with claims field by rape victims who have reported the attack to the police within 48 hours of its occurrence. Rape victims may collect all uninsured hospital costs over $100, and may additionally collect for replacement of lost earnings up to $100 per week, and a total of $15,000.

On the Federal level, the rape bill introduced by Sen. Charles Mathias (Rep.--Maryland) stumbled along in the way of much such legislative effort. This bill would create a National Center for Control and Prevention of Rape, within the National Mental Health Institute, and create eligibility for nonprofit organizations for funding "for the purpose of conducting research and demonstration projects concerning the control and prevention of rape."

What such research will develop in the way of information, that previous research (going back to the 1940s and early 1950s) hasn't revealed, remains to be seen. In those years, scientists of the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research interviewed sex offenders in prisons and mental health institutions in California, Indiana, and Ohio. They published a work based on their findings, titled Sex Offenders in 1965. In 1971, Israeli criminologist and sociologist Menachem Amir published Patterns in Forcible Rape, a scholarly study of all the rape cases handled by the Philadelphia Police Department during the years 1958 through 1960. It is conceivable, however, that recent public awareness may effect greater candor from the victims and, more important, deeper insights which will result in helping men to overcome this particular compulsion.

A substantial number of other studies of rapists have been made since 1971--some elaborate, some rather primitive--but all seem to come up with the same general findings. There are, broadly speaking, 2 kinds of rapists, the criminal rapist and the psychiatric rapist. The majority of rapists are in the 15-to-24 age bracket.

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