Academics, policymakers, and the general public have paid an increasing attention to criminal justice reform. In July, President Obama made the first ever Presidential visit to a federal penitentiary, underscoring criminal justice as a critical policy focus. While generally there exists a shared agreement on the need for reforms, agreement on policy specifics and initiatives is harder to find. Bridging the gap between disparate perspectives on criminal justice reform requires, in part, better information and data concerning the underlying factors contributing to criminal behavior. Two recent studies aim to address this need, focusing specifically on aspects affecting recidivism among released prisoners. The first, “A Systematic Review of Age, Sex, Ethnicity, and Race as Predictors of Violent Recidivism” published by Piquero and colleagues in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology uses a meta-analytic approach to examine the relationships between a range of demographic factors and recidivism. Their analysis finds that released prisoners who are younger, male and white are more likely to engage in further criminal behavior, and particularly more likely to commit violent crimes.
The second, published in Criminology & Penology, looks more specifically at the relationship between residential situtations and mobility and recidivism. Using a sample of more than 2000 released inmates, Steiner and colleagues examined rates of recidivism by differing home environments. Their analysis finds that released inmates living with spouse, parent, other relative, or in a residential program where significantly less likely to recidivate compared to those without a known home environment or who were living with a girlfriend or boyfriend.
These studies provide a better understanding of offender behavior upon release, but both highlight the need for more inquiry in order to better elucidate the factors contributing to criminal behavior.
Piquero, Alex R., Wesley G. Jennings, Brie Diamond, and Jennifer M. Reingle. “A Systematic Review of Age, Sex, Ethnicity, and Race as Predictors of Violent Recidivism.” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 59, no. 1 (January 2015): 5–26. doi:10.1177/0306624X13514733. Retrieved from: http://ijo.sagepub.com/content/59/1/5.full.pdf
Steiner, Benjamin, Matthew D. Makarios, and Lawrence F. Travis. “Examining the Effects of Residential Situations and Residential Mobility on Offender Recidivism.” Crime & Delinquency 61, no. 3 (April 1, 2015): 375–401. doi:10.1177/0011128711399409. Retrieved from: http://cad.sagepub.com/content/61/3/375.full