Causes of Recidivism

2141 Words Jun 9th, 2012 9 Pages
Causes of Recidivism

Abstract In recent decades, the United States has undergone a substantial increase in prison population. Across the country, prisons are faced with the problem of severe overpopulation. Although crime rates have dramatically decreased over the years, the rates of incarceration have gone in the opposite direction and continue to increase. One of the major underlying factors for the increase lies within recidivism. Repeat offenders make up a large component of the overall prison population. The purpose of this paper is to present the causes of recidivism and the aspects of an offender’s life that tend to lead to re-incarceration.

The term recidivism has been
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In 1994, the United States department of Justice conducted a major study on recidivism in which it tracked the release, re arrest, reconviction, and re-incarceration of former inmates for three years after their initial release from incarceration. The study was spread over fifteen states and made several key findings regarding the topic. For example, the highest rates of recidivism tended to be within the realm of nonviolent crimes, including robbery, burglary, theft, larceny, drug related offences, and weapon possession. The recidivism rates for these prisoners ranged anywhere from 70% - 78%. On the other hand, violent offenders had a much smaller rate of recidivism. Prisoners convicted of rape had a recidivism rate of only about 2.5%, and those charged with homicide had a recidivism rate of 1.2% (Braman 3). However, these numbers can be deceiving. One of the major factors for these results would be length of prison sentences. Although recidivism rates for rapists and murderers appear very low, they also carry with them the longest prison sentences. When looking at crimes with the highest rates of recidivism, the incarceration period is often much lower than those inmates of severely violent crimes,