Examining A Cure For Our Communities Criminology Essay

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The U.S. has to find ways to turn "tax-consuming inmates into tax-paying, law-abiding citizens" (Tecco, 2009). New techniques have to continue to be developed, because traditional rehabilitation programs do not seem to have lasting effects. The rate of recidivism is still far above 60% for those rearrested within the first 3 years of being released. These new programs have to extend pass the prison walls to help the released prisoner successfully operate in their communities. Many ex-convicts are continually fighting a system that denies them the rights and privileges as others. One of the major examples of this is the ability to gain employment. Many released prisoners are trying to better themselves, but without a steady job to take care of their daily lives, it becomes easier to turn back to their old life of crime.

Understanding recidivism is the first step in creating a strategy to decrease the nation-wide spread. Before anything can be done, there must be a realistic goal set that is hoped to be reached. The idea of completely stopping recidivism would be in a perfect world, but not realistic. Recidivism will always occur, just as crime will never stop. The approach should not be to stop recidivism right away, but to establish methods that will cause a continual decrease as time proceeds. In recent years the United States became the leading country with the highest rate of incarceration of any nation. The U.S. is not ranked in the top crime nations, but better yet


known for stronger sentencing and drug policies. This is to create the image of being tough on crime and less tolerable towards criminals. Unlike the U.S., other nations focus majority of their efforts on approaches like crime prevention programs and rehabilitation to reduce crime.

Purpose for Research

There are very little empirical accounts in which literature on recidivism as shown that treatment interventions or correctional programs have lowered the recidivism rates significantly. Many researches has concluded that it recidivism rates are very difficult to influences. Recidivism is measured by criminal acts that resulted in the re-arrest, reconviction, or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner's release. According to Tecco (2009) the prison industry makes about $60billion annually and even with this, there are only a few productive programs trying to solve the more serious problems like helping released inmates find employment.

The incarceration rate in the United States indicates that the correctional system is more instead in increasing its population over decreasing it. If the U.S. was to put more finances into rehabilitation, then research shows that although the short-term cost would be high, if the programs are successful in reducing recidivism, then it will show to be well worth the cost in the end.


Majority of the research words that will be used in this project is defied that can help the reader understand the information gathered. Recidivism is a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially, relapse into criminal behavior. Recidivism Rate is 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, and this occurs after being released from


incarceration. Rehabilitation in this project is the aim at transforming an offender into a valuable member of society. The primary goal is to prevent further offense by convincing the offender that their conduct was wrong.


Chapter 2


My research is based on scholarly journals and public government information. Recidivism is not only hard to test and study, but it is very difficult to research. The ability to record and keep track of a large group of people over an extended period of time can be very time consuming and costly to a person or persons who wish to study this topic. Most of the information is speculation and theory of possibilities. Not only will this research proposal discuss many of these theories, but use real life conducted experiments and study development.

Percentages of Recidivism

U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed the results of a study conducted in 1994, reported by Dr. Langan and Dr. Levin (2002). The study was conducted using 272,111 released inmates. The study showed that the highest levels of recidivism occur within the first year of a prisoner's release. This accounted for about two-thirds of all recidivism in the first three years of release. The Doctors reported that it was estimated that 21.5% of the 272,111 inmates were reconvicted for a new felony or misdemeanor within that first year period. After the second year there was another 14.9% reconvicted giving a two year combined total of 36.4%. And after the third year released another 10.5% of the inmates were rearrested, in just three years after their release, nearly half of the 272,111 inmates were back in prison facing other convictions.

In that first 3 years, 67.5% of the prisoners were rearrested for a new offense that they had committed and out of that 67.5% there were 46.9% that actually faced convictions for that


crime. 51.8% were back in prison, serving a new prison sentence for a technical violation of their release. A technical violation could be failing a drug test, missing an appointment with their parole officer, or having problems with law enforcement.

The study showed that the highest reconviction rates were prisoners that were previously motor vehicle thieves made up 78.8%, convicts in possessing or selling stolen property made up 77.4%, burglars made up 74.0%, larcenists made up 74.6%, robbers and those with illegal weapons made up 70.2%. And on the low end of reconvictions were those incarcerated for homicide they made up 40.7%. Within that three year time period 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were rearrested for homicide. Those convicted of rape made up 46.0% and 2.5% of rapists were reconvicted for another rape. Other sexual assault outside of rape made up 41.4%, and driving under the influence was on the higher end with 51.5% that were rearrested.

The study showed that men were 10.8% more likely to be rearrested then women. Blacks were 10.2% more likely to be rearrested them whites and non-Hispanics were 6.8% more likely then Hispanics. Age also made a difference; the study showed that younger prisoners were more likely to recommit crimes than older prisoners.

A second report came in that followed/tracked 300,000 released prisoners out of 15 states on their reconvictions re-arrest and re-incarceration over a 3 year period, it showed that 67.5% were rearrested, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% were resentenced for new criminal charges within that 3 years period. These 300,000 inmates represent two-thirds on the released population in the United States in 1994.

A third report was released in 2007 using a total of 1,180,469 released prisoners on parole. There were 16% of the parolees that had returned to prison that very year. It was reported that these offenders had accumulated over 4 million charges before their most recent


imprisonment and once released there was another 744,000 criminal charges giving within the 3 year release period. Each of these studies shows the same results all across the world. They give in-site into the study of recidivism in the fact that the first three years are the most important time to help and document the success of prevention programs. A recidivism prevention program has to be set up to not only help the inmate while in prison, but once they are released, when fighting temptation really gets difficult.

Active Programs in the U.S

The United States has many programs set in place to help inmates and former inmates to turn away from a life of crime and become active citizens of the community. Florida's Department of Corrections has an academic, vocational, and substance abuse programs to assist inmates to reduce recidivism after release. A study was conducted using 18,414 released inmates. The study focused on the impacts of each of the programs the Departments has and the results that each had on former inmates. The research focused on the impact of program completion. They also, observed the impact of programs grouping inmate's gender, race, criminal history and other major predictors of recidivism. Lastly, the impact of the programs was measured by the achieved improvements in academic skills, work experience, and good disciplinary records while incarcerated.

The impact of the programs is exemplified by the percent of former inmates that did not recidivate or the success rate. The outcomes were compared using those inmates that had completed the programs and those who had not. The first program examined is the Academic program/GED program. This gives inmates the opportunity to finish school, build their confidence and give them hope for life after prison. According to Moore (2001) former inmates who had earn their GED while in prison, are over 8% less likely to recidivate then those who


have not earned a GED. This puts the success rate for GED holder over 70% after they are released.

There is an added bonus for those inmates who earn a GED and have job experience, in the way of increasing their percentage from 8% to over 10% of being less likely to recidivate. This is why the Department has added a Vocational program. Putting education and experience together can be a just want a former inmates needs to have a fresh start. The Vocational program is has a very high success rate if inmates complete the program. Former inmates are over 14% less likely to recidivate once released if they complete this program.

The last program is the Substance Abuse programs. These programs are very important, because according to U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1998) any where form 45-75% of all criminals test positive for some sort of substance abuse. The study showed that inmates who had a history of criminal behavior related to substance abuse that had completed the program was over 13% less likely to recidivate then those who had not completed the program. After reviewing the results of each program and examining recidivism after release, the Florida Department of Corrections is letting other agencies know that former inmates that complete programs set to help them overcome challenges and reach goals are more successful after release then those who do not enroll or complete the programs.

The state of New York conducts a different program that does not just deals with an inmate's preparedness for release, but attempt to change their morals and way of living. The study was to observe what impact, if any did religion have on recidivism. The studies conducted by Johnson, B. et a l (1997) and Evans, T. et al (1996) both has the same outline and conclusion. They both took two groups which one was involved in the Prison Fellowship program and the other group had no affiliation with any religion. Both studies showed that increased religious


activities had a negative association with crime and/or delinquent activity. This shows that turning to religion can change the way a person acts and possible thinks.

Tocqueville (1833) conducted a study that found that rehabilitation and reformation are in fact two different things. He said that if a person has been rehabilitated it can be measured, but whether a person has been reformed there no way to tell. Observing released inmates can show if they have been rehabilitated by their actions, but repentance comes from within. Just because a person does not commit crimes does not mean they are a good person with good thoughts. There is no way to knowing how a person is thinking with them saying. A solution to this could be to have former inmates to sit in with a psychologies and talking about their thoughts of crime when an opportunity present itself. Knowing the answer to questions such as this could allow researchers to know if a person is not just rehabilitated, but reformed as well.

His study did have limitations, but Tocqueville acknowledged that "our findings at least suggest that religious programs have the potential to affect former inmates' behavior after release. Because religious programs are prominent in most prisons and because such programs are used widely, it would seem logical to coordinate the two themes more fully in future research--first, by assessing the influence of religion or religious programs on adjustment to prison and secondly, by examining the long-term recidivism patterns of inmates who are released" (1833).

Rehabilitation can come in many forms; one that seems to work very well is the Entrepreneurship program that helps prisoners redirect their criminal motives into positive areas. This program takes drug-dealers and gang leaders who have shown traits of entrepreneurial in their criminal behavior and teaches them MBA level classes so they can learn how to use their street knowledge in a positive way. Over years of committing a variety of crimes, criminals have


become very well knowledgeable in Math, Science and other fields of study without knowing that they have learned a skill. And showing prisoner how to use them knowledge in a positive way could give them the hope they need to not re-offend once released.

Many of the programs that are implemented around the U.S. are used to educated and teach, but in Kansas there is a program called Puppies behind Bars. This program is not to educate, but to help violent offender to discover their lost humanity. The program takes homeless dogs and matches them with violent offenders to give them the opportunity to care for another living thing. These inmates raise these puppies to one day serve as service dogs for the disabled and to be used in law enforcement agencies. This is one of many alternative programs that prisons use besides the education programs.

Theater and art programs are also a great way for prisoners to improve cognitive behavior and learn to express their selves without using violence. Giving inmates the ability to express their emotions in words, art or writing can give them away to handle stressful situations and start new hobbies to occupy their time once paroled. This give them a way to release frustration that may be bottled up and build confidence.

Lastly, Yoga and meditation programs have become a beneficial rehabilitation tool used within some prisons. Yoga helps the human body release stress, depression, and anxiety though body movements and controlled breathing. Studies have shown that is a person maintains a long term practice of these methods it can cause a change in one's outlook on life and behavior.

Active Programs in other Sectors

All across the world recidivism is a factor that has to be addressed and discussed. Developing programs in other countries are just as important has in the U.S. According to Schmid (2001) when social development of children and families are encouraged there is a


decrease in criminal activity. There is a greater return to the country if a released prisoner does not recidivism. There will be a $7.00 return for every $1.00 spent on rehabilitating them. In most countries each household would have to increase their taxes by $228 if they hope to decrease crime by just 10%. To put every criminal into a rehabilitation program would cost tax payer much more.

New Zealand looks at crime in a different way; they do not leave the decision making just up to those in law and politics. The correctional system allows the victim, offender, and the surrounding the community to come to an understanding of the crime and develop and plan to improve the relationship between them. According to Schmid (2001) this program is very successful; there is less than 10% of recidivism. This plan has received the International Community Justice Award in 2000, because it reduced reconvictions at a high rate and retained the public's confidences in the legal system.

When comparing the Cuban's justice system to the U.S., there is one major difference. That difference is that Cuba puts majority of their efforts on rehabilitating criminals over punishment or isolation. Inmates wear regular clothing, are able to hold normal jobs, and are incarcerated near their families regardless of their offence. Elijah (2000) reported that if a prisoner's sentence is less than five years they can become eligible for the "conditional release program." This program gives prisoners the opportunity to work within the community without having to inform the public of their criminal stats. This prevents them from being judged or un-excepted by others. In the U.S. many ex-convicts are not able to find work, because their criminal stats have to be public. The Conditional release program allows offenders to visit their families outside of prison without supervision twice a month for three days. Prisoner's that are involved in alternative programs has a recidivism rate is 15%.


Mission to Accomplish

The goal is to create programs to help prisoners and ex-convicts to turn away for a life of crime and become productive citizens. These programs have to be easy on tax-payers and benefit the surrounding communities. The programs have to be able to rehabilitate, teach, and build self-confidence. The mission is to create gradual change over a long period of time, because a program that has a great start, but do not last it is not consisted successful.


Chapter 3


Personal Ideas on Recidivism

Recidivism is an every growing problem that if not controlled can have detrimental effects on society. Understanding why crime and recidivism happens can be narrowed down to four factors. First, crime occurs due to opportunity/Impulse. Opportunity/Impulse is when a potential criminal feels that they are in the right place in the right time and everything can work in their favor. Secondly, crime occurs due to influence. Influence can come from many different directions. Potential criminals can be influence by a person, groups or organizations. The third factor is desperation. When a person becomes desperate they are capable of doing anything. The proper programs should eliminate all of these factors to insure

Research Questions

In studying recidivism there are two questions that is hoped to be answered to gain a better understanding on the subject. The first question is; Can the criminal mind be rehabilitated or just the ability to control one's actions? And the second question is; Do a person's thought processes makes them criminal or their actions? These questions will have to be examined though psychological evaluation over a period of time.

The first question deals with the difference between inner change and compressing actions. Is it true that once a criminal always a criminal? An example; A former theft walks into a store and sees jewelry lying on a table and there no one around. If they think about stealing the jewelry, he thinks about how he can take it and finds his escape, but does not, is this


rehabilitation or just control? Image if this same person walked into the store and never thought about stealing the jewelry lying on the table, this leads into the second question.

Does the thought of stealing the jewelry make a person a criminal or just the action of stealing? In the same since, the thinking and planning to murder a person is a crime. So the million dollar question is, does this "rehabilitated" ex-criminal still committing the crime of conspiracy? The possibility of a person who lived a life of crime being changed would be a great success for them and the public.


For the research of recidivism the sample would be to use 1,000 prisoners with all levels of offences. These prisoners will come from all over the U.S. who is one to two years away from being released or paroled. Dividing the sample into race would be the same ratios that are incarcerated. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2009) there are 10% of blacks, 9 ½% of American Indians or Alaska Natives, 8% of whites, 7% of Native Hawaiians, and 6% of Hispanics that are incarcerated in the U.S. The study would consist of all males, because males have the highest level of recidivism rates. The percentages would be adjusted to include the 1,000 prisoner and the correct ratio.

Research Design

Setting up a research design to study recidivism has to start first with programs that need to be tested. The program that will be tested would be a two part plan. The first plan will start while the inmates are still in prison. The second plan will begin once the inmate is released or paroled.