As a fundamental concept within the criminal justice system, recidivism refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behaviour *after* experiencing institutional intervention.
Essentially, recidivism refers to the rate of reoffending among the population of previously incarcerated individuals.
There are so many factors that impact the reoffending rate, such as mental health needs, substance abuse, and the reform program that is available in prison (among many others). The follow up period also needs to be considered.
Recidivism rates around the world
First, it’s important to note that national statistics on recidivism is rare - a concern on its own.
Next, a quick overview of the following recidivism rates should make us think about what contributes to a high rate vs. low rate in each respective country.
The rate of criminal recidivism around the world is reported to be as high as 50%.
There are (many) reasons for this concerning rate of reoffending, and these reasons differ from one country to another.
Contributing factors to to recidivsm
The difference in recidivism rates between countries reveals how legal policy and criminal behaviour are closely linked. These policies extend beyond the rehabilitation efforts at various institutions.
Studies have shown the following factors to be the largest contributors to the increases risk of reoffending;
- Age of discharge
- Criminal history
- Community characteristics (and geographic environment)
With these factors in mind, where does the responsibility for “community characteristics” lie?
Source for information:
Harvard Political Review
African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies
Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ)
World Population Review