What Does Recidivism Mean and Why is it Important?
The recidivism rates in this country are frighteningly high. This is a
testament to whether or not our prison systems are effective, and if
they actually “correct” rather than “punish.” The point of prison is to
prevent criminals from reverting back to their criminal behavior after
being released into society. However, the life of an inmate does not
exactly prepare him or her for the normalcy of society.
A criminal defense lawyer is well informed about the recidivism rates in the United States. That’s why a criminal defense lawyer will work so hard to prevent prison time and to get your case dismissed.
What is recidivism?
Recidivism is the act of a person repeating or relapsing into an undesirable behavior after they have experienced negative consequences, or punishment, of that particular behavior. They may have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior but have still reverted back.
A lot of times, recidivism is directly related to the behavior of sexual offenders. Sexual offenders have a high recidivism rate and are often known to commit more sexual offenses after being released from prison.
Criminal recidivism is often highly associated with psychopathy, which is defined as a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with intensely amoral conduct. Psychopaths have an uncanny ability to appear outwardly normal. They generally have an uninhibited gratification in criminal, sexual, or aggressive impulses and the inability to learn from past mistakes.
How often to people recidivate?
Several studies have been done by different government departments on recidivism. Recidivism is considered one of the biggest dangers of society to date. By releasing a prisoner back into the general population, you are putting trust in a criminal and at the same time, putting civilians at risk.
The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons made comments on the dangers of recidivism:
As a former prosecutor, I believe strongly in securing tough and appropriate prison sentences for people who break our laws. But it is also important that we do everything we can to ensure that, when these people get out of prison, they enter our communities as productive members of society, so we can start to reverse the dangerous cycles of recidivism and violence.”
–Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
According to a study conducted by the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, within three years of their release, 67% of former prisoners are rearrested and 52% are re-incarcerated.
The National Institute of Justice researchers studied the impact of prison experience on the rate of recidivism based on crime prior to prison and incarceration itself.
- 56% of reoffenders with prison experience did not reoffend within a 3-year period
- 40% of reoffenders with prison experience reoffended as predicted
- 4% of reoffenders actually increased the rate of crime after release from prison
The NIJ also reported that “research shows, however, that being exposed to inmates who have higher propensities to crime may increase criminal behavior or reinforce antisocial attitudes.”
If you are accused of a crime, your freedom, your family, your reputation, your immigration status, and your job may be at stake. The outcome you receive in the criminal justice system depends upon the experience and knowledge of the criminal defense attorney you choose to represent you.