recidivism


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Recidivism

The behavior of a repeat or habitual criminal. A measurement of the rate at which offenders commit other crimes, either by arrest or conviction baselines, after being released from incarceration.

Both state and federal laws have been enacted in an attempt to reduce the number of repeat or habitual offenses. For example, Washington's habitual criminal statute imposes a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment for persons convicted of a second felony, third misdemeanor, or third petit larceny. Furthermore, in the event that a person is convicted of a third felony, fifth misdemeanor, or a fifth petit Larceny, the statute imposes a life sentence (Wash. Rev. Code § 9.92.090 [1996]).

Another state that has enacted a recidivism statute is California. California's recidivism statute, more commonly known as the three-strikes law, increases sentencing when the recidivist commits additional crimes. If the criminal is convicted of a second felony, the sentence doubles the sentence of the first-time felon, and if convicted of a third violent crime or serious felony, the person will be sentenced to triple the sentence of a first-time felon, or 25 years imprisonment, whichever is greater (Cal. Penal Code § 667 [West 1996]). The three-strikes law was passed in 1994, after a voter Referendum received 71 percent support. The ballot measure was prompted by the 1993 abduction-murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in Petaluma, California. The killer, Richard Allen Davis, was a twice-convicted kidnapper who had been on Parole after serving only half of a 16-year prison term for the second Kidnapping. Because of the way the law is written, however, offenders with prior criminal records are being put behind bars for life for non-felony offenses such as petty theft and shoplifting.

In March 2003, the Supreme Court ruled on two separate cases Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11, 123 S. Ct. 1179, 155 L. Ed. 2d 108 (2003), and Lockyer v. Andrade,, 538 U.S. 63, 123 S. Ct. 1166, 155 L. Ed. 2d 144 (2003), both involving California's law providing for mandatory prison terms of 25 years to life for those convicted for the third time of a felony. The Court failed to overturn the law, despite arguments that the sentences of those challenging the law constituted cruel and usual punishment in violation of the Eight Amendment. The federal government and 26 states now have a three strikes-type law, imposing as much as a life prison term for criminals convicted of a third felony.

Congress also responded to the recidivism rates in the United States by enacting the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Pub. L. No. 103-322, 108 Stat. 1796). This act mandates life imprisonment for the commission of a serious violent felony or a combination of two or more serious felonies or drug offenses.

There are many ideas on how to solve the problem of recidivism. Some of these include requiring literacy programs in penal institutions, electronic monitoring of home confinement, greater use of halfway houses, and "boot camp" programs consisting of military marching, discipline, physical training, work, classes, and drug and alcohol treatment for young, first-time offenders.

Further readings

Brooks, Justin. 1994. "Keeping the Jailhouse Lawyer Out of Jail." Criminal Justice 9 (summer).

Burns, Jerald C., and Gennaro F. Vito. 1995. "An Impact Analysis of the Alabama Boot Camp Program." Federal Probation 59 (March).

Farrington, David P., and Roger Tarling, eds. 1985. Prediction in Criminology. Albany, N.Y.: State Univ. of New York Press.

McClain, Meredith. 1996. "'Three Strikes and You're Out': The Solution to the Repeat Offender Problem?" Seton Hall Legislative Journal 20 (July).

Potts, Jeff. 1993. "American Penal Institutions and Two Alternative Proposals for Punishment." South Texas Law Review 34 (October).

Zamble, Edward, and Vernon L. Quinsey. 2001. The Criminal Recidivism Process. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Cross-references

Determinate Sentence.

recidivism

noun backsliding, degeneration, habitual relapse into crime, recreancy, regression, relapse, repeated relapse into crime, retrogradation, reversion
See also: relapse, reversion

recidivism

habitual relapse into crime.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although a recidivism rate north of 50 percent may seem high, it is also worth considering the fiscal implications of a drop from 77 percent to, say, 68 percent.
If decarceration is not accompanied by an increase in effective programming resources, then recidivism rates will almost assuredly stay the same.
In fact, by working with locals in the Safer Peterborough Partnership, One Service reduced the recidivism rate of these short-sentence offenders by 9 percent more than a national control group.
Since the Second Chance Act became law in 2008, reentry stakeholders have held a vested interest in reducing recidivism and making prisons and communities safer.
Recidivism is a significant topic of concern surrounding the problem of juvenile crime and delinquency.
Although longitudinal stability exists in the national recidivism rate, cross-sectional differences across state-level recidivism rates remain.
Moreover, SORNA directly conflicts with current knowledge of the significantly lower recidivism rates of juvenile sex offenders compared with juvenile non-sex offenders (Caldwell, 2007; Chu & Thomas, 2010; Gurley, Kuehnle, & Kirkpatrick, 2008; Mulder, Brand, Bullens, & Van Marie, 2010).
And rather than using arrest records to measure recidivism, these states are measuring the rates at which prisoners set free are back in prison within three years.
However, other adolescent behaviors colloquially associated with sexual recidivism have not been validated.
In a study carried out in the Comunidad Autonoma de las Islas Canarias, De Armas, Garcia, and Castro (2008) found a fairly low recidivism rate in open-setting measures: 17% for the measures of parole, 20.
The loan from Goldman Sachs is to be used for a new four-year programme that aims to bring down recidivism levels among adolescent men imprisoned on Rikers Island.