Recidivism in the US Justice System

Recidivism, in terms of the criminal justice system, refers to the repetition of crimes by inmates after they have been rehabilitated to eliminate such behaviors. A survey conducted in 2002 revealed that 67. 5% of 275,000 inmates released in the US in 1994 were arrested within three years. Among those released, 51. 8% returned to prison after they were arrested. Findings indicate, however, that there’s no correlation between the duration of incarceration and the rate of recidivism. Furthermore, the study found that inmates who served the longest sentences had significantly lower rearrest rates.

This is most probably because these people are already old, and indeed, findings indicate a negative correlation between age and recidivism (Whitfield, et. al. , 1991, p. 8). Recidivism rates in the United States are higher compared to that of the United Kingdom: sixty percent against fifty. Some experts say that the lower numbers in UK is due to their justice system’s focus on the education and rehabilitation of prisoners. The US justice system, on the other hand, focuses more on the punishment of crimes and the protection of society from dangerous inmates.

The US Department of Justice has conducted research on the recidivism of prisoners in 15 states across the country. Former prisoners were tracked for three years with some startling findings. Robbers, burglars, larcenists, thieves of motor vehicles, sellers of stolen property, and users of illegal weapons have the highest rates for being rearrested. 2. 5 percent of rapists that were released from prisons get rearrested for the same crime within three years. 1. 2 percent of inmates who were arrested for homicide get rearrested for the same crime within the same period of time (Travis and Visher, 2005, p.

10). According to Roger Roots, a sociologist, recidivism rates in the US may be increasing because of the computerization of criminal records. Before computerization became widespread, individuals who have criminal records were able to move to new locations and start new lives with clean records. However, since criminal records are now easily accessible and integrated, released prisoners are more easily tracked, increasing recidivism rates across the country (Travis and Visher, 2005, p. 10).