Politifact Finds Congressman Duncan’s Claim ‘Mostly False’

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan’s assertion that 90 percent of felonies are committed by people who grew up in fatherless homes has been given a “mostly false” rating by Politifact.
The national fact-checking group looked at a comment the Knoxville Republican congressman made in a letter to a constituent: “Well over 90 percent of felony cases, all over the nation, are committed by defendants who grew up in father-absent households.”
A Duncan spokesman told Politifact that the assertion was based on “knowledge obtained from nearly eight years as a criminal court judge dealing with mostly felony cases.” And Gary Tullock, chief probation counselor, told him the figure was actually 98 percent.
Politifact looked at three studies on the issue, which pegged the number at around 60 percent.
An excerpt:
Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and professor of education at the University of Virginia, said that even if Duncan’s statistic were true, “it would be misleading and incomplete,” because it does not address how many people grew up in father-absent households and did not commit felonies.
“We could point out that 99 percent of felony offenders drank milk as a child, too, but it is easy to see the fallacy here because we have no preconceptions about milk the way we do about father absence,” he said. “Father absence is surely an important concern, but it is only one of a number of risk factors for felony criminal behavior.”
…The data we found supports Duncan’s impression that growing up in a fatherless home is one of the factors that contributes to eventual incarceration. But the quantitative research does not show the near-certain link between felonies and fatherlessness that Duncan portrays. We rate the claim Mostly False.

The full Politifact article is HERE.

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