Why Is the Recidivism Rate So High?

5 Feb

Lots of different perspectives were offered last week in response to the “second sentence” concept.

Thank you.  It is important to generate conversations about this key aspect of our Criminal Justice System.

Along those lines, this week’s question asks us to offer our views and opinions about the nation’s exorbitant recidivism rate.

Within three years of being released from prison, over 67% of people are incarcerated again.


Please let us know why you think our recidivism rate is so high.

Respectful comments of all perspectives are welcome here.

Be Well.

2nd Sentence

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14 Responses to “Why Is the Recidivism Rate So High?”

  1. Dana February 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Recidivism rates are so high and society is to blame. After some reading I came to a few conclusions. First off it seems the criminal justice system encourages a crime culture. If an individual is committed of a crime, they are immediately punished. They are then sent away to a community of other people being punished, and then the culture permeates of loners outcasted from society. On top of this, when those being punished are released they wear a scarlet letter. It is hard for them to avoid stigma when applying for jobs, homes, or loans for an education. This is the harsh reality of the second sentence. That sometimes there is no better option then for the social deviants to practice the values and ideas of the only people they related to. The other people who were outcasted from society.

  2. Maya February 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    I personally have no experience with this situation so I can only imagine that frustration, anger, and fear are the motivations for people to commit crimes again. With all the roadblocks in the way of education, career advancement, home ownership, obtaining loans, etc., it would seem as if we as a society are taking all the opportunities away from inmates who have already served their time (supposedly). Perhaps these are the reasons people commit crimes in the first place. It is “strain theory” in action. When a person can’t achieve the American Dream through culturally approved means, they may turn to crime to meet their goals.

    • Tajuanna February 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      I agree with this. We as a people only have ourselves to blame when a great deal of us fail to meet the standards we have set in the first place.

  3. Christine Hoy February 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    While I have no evidence of this claim, it would seem plausible that a portion of the ones being put back into jail would be drug users and drug dealers. This is such a trivial criminal offense unless it involves physical or mental harm on another person. It seems contradictory for the US to be the country of “Freedom” and yet bar people’s personal freedom to inhale, inject, whatever substance they so please into their bodies. If drugs of all kind, at least marijuana, were legalized, these recidivism rates could quite possibly go down.

  4. Andrew Haws February 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    To some degree criminals I believe would fall under a type of self-fulfilling prophecy where the public looks for any sign of them to commit crimes again and thus the criminal starts to believe they must be the criminal they are expected to be. Also the lack of opportunities to assimilate back into everyday life after leaving jail is often difficult. Every job application I have ever filled out has asked if I have been convicted of a felony or have been incarcerated in the past. These are obvious deterrents for people re-entering society and must be reconsidered in order to help former criminals become functioning members of society which would hopefully decrease recidivism rates.

    • 2ndsentence February 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      yes, I call this “other-fulfilling prophecy” since this more accurately conveys what is happening – others are setting people up to fulfill their own expectations and assumptions of people with criminal records failing and then create the conditions that lead to these people not making it in society and then these people feel smug and justified in their original prophecies often not realizing their roles in the demise of these individuals who simply want a break in order to rejoin society. (“Other-fulfilling prophecy” is a term coined by Dr. Demetrius Semien).

      • Pat Norwine February 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

        This makes a lot of sense. Specifically, I would say this is exactly what law enforcement tends to do to ex-criminals. They automatically assume that these people are the “suspects”, and when proven right, however rare or common that is, they justify this idea to themselves. What’s the point of calling someone an “ex-criminal” if all they’re seen as is a “criminal”?

  5. Matt Williamson February 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    I believe on of the reasons why so many people end up back in prison is they aren’t treated, they are just put into a bad environment where they learn to become more violent. The US prison system has become the new mental healthcare system where people who need to get medical help, end up because they have no where else to go. The documentary “The New Asylums” takes a look at how the US prison system has become the new mental hospitals and that they are not effectively equipped to be giving these people the help they really need. The US justice system needs to get those with mental issues the help they need so they get better, and those with drug abuse into rehab so they also get the help they need.

  6. Ben Hazen February 8, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    I believe the recidivism rate in our country is high because we do not have any large-scale programs in place to help people convicted of crimes re-enter society. Without any prospects of getting a legitimate job, getting lines of credit, buying a home, etc… it is little wonder many ex-offenders end up back in jail. I believe the criminal justice system should focus less on failed ventures such as the so-called war on drugs, and shift the focus to creating organized government programs where ex-offenders can properly re-enter society.

  7. cassidyhukill8@gmail.com February 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    I think the recidivism rate is so high because it’s too easy to send “criminals” to jail. I feel prison is our solution to all crimes. This is obviously not helping because of the rates. We should develop programs specifically for different types of “offenders.” There is also a huge problem with mental health. A lot of people with mental health problems end up in prison. When the prison releases them they are only given a two week supply of pills to go home with. Two weeks isn’t a long time especially since its so hard for people with records to find a job. I don’t think anyone can find a job that fast with INSTANT health insurance. If anyone knows anything about SSRI’s or any kind of medication that needs to build up in your system if you stop taking them it makes you crazy. It can cause manic episodes because your serotonin is completely messed up. I feel like this starts a cycle for mentally troubled prisoners.

  8. Bria February 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    I believe the recidivism rate is so high because we don’t have the most helpful resources for individuals when they are released from jail. Many of these individuals don’t have much to go home to when they are released. Some don’t have homes but a lot do not have jobs. Instead of having resources that help individuals coming out the system pursue a better life away from what landed them in jail in the first place, society reminds them of their deviance creating a difficult atmosphere in the real world than they had before. This can lead to violations of their release, because they will do what they deem necessary in order to live in society and those actions may not be as legitimate as the options provided to individuals without a criminal background. It them becomes easy for the individual to return to the path they participated in before and therefore back in jail.

  9. Adam B February 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I’d prefer to look at things from a sociological perspective. Any society is going to have deviant elements; even in a world free of “crime”, new things would constantly be redefined as deviant. This serves a purpose; deviant elements can be removed from society and sequestered which both strengthens the functionality of society and enhances inclusiveness within the non-deviant members. With this in mind, recidivism could simply be a more effective evolution of this functional concept. Once deviant elements have been identified and removed from the general functioning population of society; put on the “border” of our communities, if you will, would it not be prudent and efficient if future deviant elements were drawn from the same pool of people? Maybe recidivists don’t really have a choice in the matter…they’re fated and socialized to commit crimes again in order to fulfill the function that society requires of them.

    • Anna Herrmann February 27, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      I can understand your perspective, Adam: But, then, in this perspective you see no issue with recidivism. Doesn’t it bother you that although the crime rate is not necessarily rising, more prisons are being built? Does it bother you that these people can be helped, and can be brought back to society with the right training, but are being treated as less than that? Even for non-violent crimes? My problem with the functionalist perspective is that it seems lazy, or apathetic…what can possibly be accomplished with that perspective? Recidivists should have a say in the matter…and they should have equal opportunity to a fulfilling life. The vicious cycle of recidivism is one that is wasting lives…and money, for that matter.
      Again, I understand your sociological view, but I agree to disagree.

  10. wbeltz March 1, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Recidivisim is high because our justice system does not offer enough treatment for offenders when they are in jail or prison. In prison low risk offenders are placed in with high risk offenders and they learn how to be better criminals. ,f our system would concentrate more on treatment and less on labeling, offenders might acctually have a chance to do something with their life outside of prison.

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