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What is Prison Recidivism

by Suleman


Various clinicians influenced by deviant conduct have been fascinated by various causes contributing to violence. The hunt for the root and development of criminal activity was linked by Barak, Leighton and Flavin to a critically defined time of revolt, classified as the revolution of reason in 1764 (Barak, Leighton and Flavin 3). With the tale of criminology transcending marked intermittent upheavals covering decades, preceded by the revolution of science (1876) and the revolution of reflexivity (1976), a better comprehension of the existence and propensity of offenders to show persistent relapse into crime has been closely examined. The current research is conducted for the benefit of students, parole and probation officers and community service providers who have stipulated genuine interest on the subject and who should be persuaded to be more aware on the factors that initiate repeated criminal activities of previously apprehended people found to commit crimes. The audience would be persuaded to be vigilant and monitor the propensities for criminal behavior in order to address and prevent potential future dilemmas. In this respect, the purpose of the study is to argue that individuals who have historically exhibited and displayed illegal activity have a stronger propensity and vulnerability to relapse. The discourse would initially define what criminal behavior is in general before expounding on issues and factors that pave the way for criminals to manifest a habitual relapse of their deviant behavior.

Criminal Behavior

In general, illegal activity has been explained in terms of exemplifying anti-social behaviour identified as “any action that violates accepted moral, ethical, or legal standards” (Moeller 2). Any conduct that is perceived to be deviant from natural and conventional norms, as confirmed and determined by culture, is therefore considered antisocial and vulnerable to criminal behaviour. The reasons behind most offences have been persistently studied through the determination of internal causes and external factors that lead to their incidence. Some claim that illegal activity is the product of simple human desires, varying from craving for gratification, trying to get more than one actually has (greed), wanting to force oneself on another (lust) to utilising aggressive behaviour due to rage, disgust, and other intense emotions (rage). The dilemma occurs as people see the propagation of these human desires outside the rules and regulations put down by society.

What is Prison Recidivism

In a study undertaken by Burton and Marshall, the paths to criminal behaviour have been greatly clarified by the studies of Moffitt, who defined and classified two categories of antisocial people: life-course-persistent persons who have been identified as vulnerable to persistent deviant behaviour; and adolescence-limited, as the word suggests (Moffitt 674; cited in Burton and Marshall 47). Citing more study, Burton and Marshall reported that “entry into criminal justice at an early age generally leads to an increase in future offending” (Burton and Marshall 47). At this stage, the study will recognise variables that raise the chances for persons to participate in illegal behaviour.

Factors for Prison Recidivism

            The findings of numerous criminal surveys have paved the way for analysis to demonstrate that there are common causes that have been reported to raise the likelihood of people to participate in antisocial and deviant behaviour. Burton and Marshall identified risk factors, described as ‘factors that enhance the risk of incidence of incidents, such as onset, frequency, persistence or length of the offence ” (Farrington, Industrial, family and peer factors in the development of delinquency 27; McGuire) ranging from individuals with parents who have been involved in previous criminal activities; those who were associated with peer members manifesting delinquent behavior; those individuals who are members of large families; those who are products of broken homes; and those who experience difficulties in academic endeavors (Burton and Marshall 48). These factors have significantly increased the propensities for individuals to commit crime due to pressures that impinge them bordering on family problems (expected of large families, those from broken homes, and especially when exposure to criminal activities have been imposed by parents who exhibited antisocial and deviant behavior themselves) and on peer problems (including compliance to academic requirements and standards expected from the educational institutions). For those who have been categorized to belong to the life-course-persistent individuals with a history of criminal behavior and have repeatedly relapsed into engaging in future criminal act, the distinct factors that lead into recidivism are hereby identified.

            The goal of the Nilsson research was to establish what factors contribute to the relapse of ex-convicts in illegal behaviour. Initially, the meaning of the word was described as “individuals as having reoffended when they, following the release from prison, have committed a new offence and as a consequence received a sentence to be served within the prison and probation system” (Nilsson 63).

The author’s results show that “problems relating to education and employment, but above all an accumulation of different types of resource problems, are clearly correlated with recidivism” (Nilsson 57). The speech described specific data and figures contributing to recidivism in terms of the categories of offences that are most frequently repeated: robbery and narcotics offences; the demographic profile: young people more than older; immigrants more than nationals; and males more than women (Nilsson 59).

Recidivism in jail has been compounded by resource issues defined as follows: (1) those identified as having educational problems; (2) no past background of employment; (3) those with financial dilemmas; (4) those without identified residences; (5) no previous relationships with family members; (6) identified health concerns; and (7) those identified as having been subject to abuse and violence; (Nilsson 65-66). More specifically, attention was assigned to the understanding and real experience of ex-convicts in terms of assistance from welfare services, the critical value of accessing assistance in schooling and jobs, and the absence of connection to these programmes was perceived to be instrumental in recurrence (Nilsson 79). Having determined the reasons behind prison recidivism, the final portion of the research would support the contention that people who have previously exhibited and  manifested criminal behavior have greater tendencies and susceptibilities for relapse.

Argumentative Analysis

            It has been specifically mentioned that persons who have previously displayed and shown illegal behaviour have a greater propensity and vulnerability to relapse, particularly among those that fall within the defined profile: those who have committed or have the ability to commit robbery and drug offences; young people; males; and foreigners who strive to support and preserve their life in another c.

From this offender profile, the recognition of conditions that raise the likelihood of ex-convicts to rebound and participate in potential illegal activities requires a closer examination of these opportunity challenges and to resolve them in order to avoid recidivism. By addressing the underlying causes of illegal activity, from the beginning, neighbourhood groups responsible for delivering social service services should concentrate on improving parental support and reinforcing family connections. Known family issues should be identified and social workers for wives and children of inmates should be directed to reinforce their relations by guidance, action and holistic care, as well as forms and means of delivering education and job support, as needed.

The study findings referenced by Burton and Marshall supported the claim that criminals who have joined the criminal justice system at an early age are more prone to relapse (Farrington; Moffitt; McGuire as cited in Burton and Marshall 47). In this respect, professionals, such as probation officers and social workers who are actively interested in working with these people, may function hand-in-hand to recognise contributing factors and inadequate services that could lead to the recurrence of criminal activity.


            Prison recidivism continue to pervade and exist in contemporary societies. Via a range of findings and surveys that identified trigger factors for accelerated proliferation, crime professionals, parole officers and probation officers, in collaboration with neighbourhood social workers, must collaborate collaboratively to resolve resource gaps in order to avoid recidivism. By encouraging inmates to re-enter society, ex-convicts could ultimately become active citizens of society by growing values and self-confidence and introducing appropriate measures that would help them create greater efficiency and prospects for personal and professional development.

  • Barak, Gregg, Paul Leighton and Jeanne Flavin. Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: the Socia Realities of Justice in America. 2010
  • Burton, Jodi M and Lisa A. Marshall. “Protective factors for youth considered at risk of criminal behavior: does participation in extracurricular activities help?” Criminal Behavior and Mental Health (2005): Volume 15, 46-64.
  • Farrington, DP. “Industrial, family and peer factors in the development of delinquency.” Hollin, CR and K. Howell. Clinical Approaches to Working with Young Offenders. Chichester: Wiley, 1996. 21-56. —. Understanding and Preventing Youth Crime. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1996.
  • McGuire, J. “Community-based intervention.” Hollin, CR. Working with Offender: Psychological Practice in Offender Rehabilitation. Chichester: Wiley, 1996. 63-93.
  • Moeller, Thomas. “Youth Aggression and Violence: A Psychological Approach.” NetLibrary, 2001.
  • Moffitt, TE. “Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy.” Psychological Review (1993): Volume 100, 674-701.
  • Nilsson, Anders. “Living Conditions, Social Exclusion and Recidivism among Prison Inmates.” Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention (2003): Volume 4, 57 – 83.

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