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Understanding the Root Cause of Recidivism and the Strategies to Address Them

Recidivism, or the tendency of an individual to reoffend after being released from prison, is a problem that plagues the criminal justice system. Recidivism is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including the psychological, social, and economic challenges that ex-offenders face upon reentry into society. The high rates of recidivism in the United States suggest that current methods of rehabilitation and reintegration are not effective in preventing reoffending. This blog aims to explore the root causes of recidivism and the strategies that have been developed to address them.

Root Cause 1: Lack of Access to Resources and Opportunities

One of the most significant root causes of recidivism is the lack of access to resources and opportunities. Limited job prospects and financial strain make it difficult for ex-offenders to reintegrate back into society, increasing the risk of returning to criminal activity. Former prisoners’ poor psychological well-being and lack of community support services are among the factors that contribute to their inability to integrate into the community. As a result, over 50% of those released from prison are rearrested within five years, as per the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Strategy 1:

To target this issue, intervention programs have been developed to provide ex-offenders with counseling services, education, job training, and housing assistance. Providing access to resources, such as education and job training, has been successful in reducing the rates of recidivism. In 2020, the Second Chance Act program was reauthorized, and its funding was extended to support reentry programs. By providing these resources, ex-offenders gain the necessary skills and knowledge that better equip them to transition back into the workforce, rebuild their lives and avoid re-offending again.

Root Cause 2: Mental Health Issues

Another root cause of recidivism is mental health issues. Many ex-offenders suffer from untreated mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, which can lead to substance abuse and criminal activity. The prevalence of mental illness among inmates is significantly higher than the general population, and prisoners’ mental health needs remain a significant challenge for the criminal justice system. The treatment of mental illnesses that includes rehabilitation programs shows the potential to reduce recidivism. Mental health treatment reduces the risk of relapse, which is currently a substantial issue among prisoners and could significantly reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

Strategy 2:

Mental Health Services and Treatment Programs Providing better access to mental health services within correctional facilities and during the re-entry process is crucial. Mental health counseling, group therapy, and rehabilitation programs can help address underlying mental health issues and reduce the risk of relapse. By ensuring individuals receive proper treatment and support, the likelihood of re-offending can be significantly diminished.

Root Cause 3: Parole and Probation Violations

Non-compliance with the conditions of parole or probation is a common factor contributing to recidivism rates. Probation and parole officers have significant responsibility for ensuring that ex-offenders comply with the terms of their release, including things like meeting curfews or attending appointments. When individuals fail to adhere to the conditions, they risk being re-incarcerated, thereby placing them back in the criminal justice system.

Strategy 3: Personalized Plans and Effective Supervision Parole and probation officers play a crucial role in reducing recidivism by developing personalized plans for released prisoners. These plans provide support, guidance, and incentives for compliance, focusing on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. By establishing a strong support system and effectively monitoring ex-offenders, the likelihood of re-offending can be significantly reduced.

In conclusion, recidivism is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to be addressed effectively. Alongside factors such as lack of access to resources and untreated mental illnesses, the criminal justice system’s challenges also lie in the processes of probation and parole supervision. Implementing evidence-based programs and adopting new policies and practices is the key to reducing recidivism rates. To reduce recidivism rates, resources, such as job training, drug rehabilitation programs, and mental health resources, have been successful in reducing the rates of recidivism. With the continued development of rehabilitation and support programs and monitoring practices, society can make significant strides in addressing the root causes of recidivism and helping ex-offenders reintegrate back into society.

Sources Cited

  • Travis, J. (2013). But they all come back: Facing the challenges of prisoner reentry. National Institute of Justice Journal, 269, 40-47.
  • Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). The psychology of criminal conduct. Routledge.
  • Western, B., Braga, A. A., Davis, J., & Sirois, C. (2015). Stress and hardship after prison. American Journal of Sociology, 120(5), 1512-1547.
  • Visher, C. A., & Travis, J. (2011). Life on the outside: Returning home after incarceration. Urban Institute Press.
  • Petersilia, J. (2019). When prisoners come home: Parole and prisoner reentry. Oxford University Press.
  • Latessa, E. J., Cullen, F. T., & Gendreau, P. (2002). Beyond correctional quackery: Professionalism and the possibility of effective treatment. Federal Probation, 66(2), 27-33.
  • Taxman, F. S., & Belenko, S. (2012). Implementing evidence-based practices in community corrections and addiction treatment. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • La Vigne, N. G., Naser, R. L., & Brooks, L. E. (2010). Public opinion on sentencing and corrections policy: Results of a national survey. Urban Institute.
  • Greenberg, D. F., & Weakliem, D. L. (2012). Reentry and the ties that bind: An examination of social ties, employment, and recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 29(2), 307-333.
  • McGarrell, E. F. (2010). Community justice: An emerging field. Routledge.

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