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January 12, 2018

BY THE NUMBERS: Eugene Volokh dug deep into that “Nearly 40 Percent of Sex Offenders in Oregon Prisons Are Illegal Aliens” and writes:

Steve: Sorry to trouble you about this [No trouble at all! -S], but I’m not sure the statistic adds up. I looked at the linked-to Paula Bolyard item, https://pjmedia.com/trending/one-fifteen-oregon-prisoners-criminal-alien-nearly-half-convicted-sex-crimes/, and then in turn to the original source, https://docfnc.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/oregon-department-of-corrections-criminal-alien-report-december-2017/, and here’s what I found:

(1) The original source is writing not about illegal aliens, but about “criminal aliens.” I assume this is the same “criminal alien” as that described in 8 U.S.C. sec. 1252(a)(2)(C) — an alien, whether or not legally present, who is removable because he has committed a certain kind of crime. See Freeman v. Holder (8th Cir. 2010), https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17372653859303192596, elaborating on this definition.

(2) The original source does report that 476 of Oregon prisoners were criminal aliens committed rape, sodomy, or sex abuse. But that is out of a total of 3738 total prisoners who committed those crimes; the ratio is about 12.7%, not the 39.32% that the PJMedia source reports.

By the way, it appears that the percentage of all Oregon inmates who are criminal aliens (6.6%) is quite close to the percentage of all Oregonians who are aliens (7%, see https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/distribution-by-citizenship-status/), though the percentage of Oregon inmate sex offenders who are criminal aliens does seem higher than that (though not by as much as the Bolyard item reports).

Paula has of course corrected the original story, although nearly 13% still seems high for the Pacific Northwest. More to come on this one, I’m afraid. But in the meantime, a big thanks to Eugene.