Full Text


Paula Smith

Subject Law
Sociology » Deviance and Social Control

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Recidivism refers to reoffending, or the repetition of criminal acts by a convicted offender. The term is derived from the French word récidiver , and based on the Latin word recidivus , meaning “falling back,” to denote a relapse into prior criminal habits. Recidivism is an important consideration for modern penologists as a large proportion of incarcerated offenders in most countries are classified as recidivists. Studies in several countries across North America and Europe, for example, indicate that between one-half and two-thirds of inmates have served previous sentences ( Bonta et al. 1992 ; Farrington 1992 ). According to Langan and Levin (2002) , a recidivism rate as high as 70 percent has been reported within three years of release for inmates in the United States. Research also indicates that recidivists tend to have lengthier criminal histories, and the recidivism rate appears to be highest for those convicted of property offenses ( Bonta et al. 1992 ; Langan & Levin 2002 ). Women are much less likely to recidivate than men ( Bonta et al. 1992 ). The measurement of recidivism is plagued by a number of conceptual and methodological issues that affect how statistics are interpreted. Recidivism is most often defined as an official record of reoffending behavior (e.g., rearrest, reconviction, reincarceration, technical violation of parole or probation condition, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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