Recidivism in the United States Criminal Justice System Essay

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Recidivism in the United States Criminal Justice System

An ongoing and increasingly evident issue in the criminal justice system is how convicted individuals reenter society with little or no gradual process. These individuals often resort back to criminal activity in an act termed recidivism. According to the National institute of Justice(NIJ), recidivism “refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime” (National Institute of Justice, 2012). This process often involves individuals committing more serious criminal offenses than in their prior offenses. Is there any way in which the criminal justice system can be altered so as to either
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Most studies vary on the rate of recidivism amongst releasees. This is mainly due to where the studies take place, the sample size of the study, and when the study takes place. A popular study often referenced to by sociologists and criminologists when studying recidivism rates is one that was conducted in 1994 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The sample of this study consisted on over 272,000 released individuals in 15 states. According to the study, over 67% of the individuals were rearrested, 47% were re-convicted, and 25% were re-sentenced to prison for the new crime (Langan & Levin, 1994). James Henslin breaks the study of re-entry into the correctional system down into even more by stating that 40-45% individuals relapse within one year of release, while 66-68% relapse within three years of release (Henslin). The image below illustrates the recidivism rates in United States prisons by each crime.

As one can see, the recidivism rates decrease with the severity of the original criminal act. This is simply explained by the fact that by committing a more serious crime at first, the prison sentence will be much longer. In cases such as murder, many individuals will never be released from prison due to life sentences or…