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ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

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Abstract Every society has its norms of behavior; every state has developed its laws and the system of law enforcement. There are people that violate laws and are punished according to the established law. This paper contains research of how soon felons return to prison after being released, analysis of the reasons of their return to prison and the discussion of the ways to diminish the number of prisoner recidivism.

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

Facing the Problem Many people in the United States and all over the world are convicted for a variety of reasons. In prison they encounter another life. Some people change their life style after being released, and some gain skills in how to commit crimes from those specialists, who live their life in prison and recruit or simply teach interested felons. "Specialists" are prisoners who, after being released, commit the same crime they were just in prison for, while "non-specialists" are those whose new offense differs from what they were in prison for. Degrees of both specialization and non-specialization can be seen in the types of offenses the prisoners were rearrested for following their release. (Langan & Levin, 2002, p. 9) So, the main point is to study how released felons live and act after imprisonment and what are the reasons of their return to prison. Studies show that prisoner recidivism has become the problem for the recent 30 years (Beck & Shipley, 1990; Langan & Levin, 2002; Wallerstedt, 1984). A sustainable number of felons return to prison or are rearrested by the end of 3 years after (Prisoner Recidivism, n.d.) (See Appendix I) being released. A great number of data represented in this paper is taken from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. A number of works and opinions from different resources are analyzed and referenced. The research method for prisoner recidivism rate is based on the analysis of the reports given to Bureau of Justice Statistics by 15 State departments of correction that participate in the national study of prisoner recidivism and of the report provided by The Sentencing Project (2010). In order to trace the tendency and dynamics of prisoner recidivism, the data analysis covers the recidivism rates of prisoners released since 1983 till 2009.

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

Prisoner Recidivism: Habit or Bad Luck Prisoner Recidivism is an act of undesirable behavior that leads to rearrest and/or reimprisonment. It usually involves the following stages: release from custody (probation or program completion) and subsequent arrest (resulted from subsequent crime commitment). Every recidivism starts from the so called starting event, which is the first stage release from custody. Depending on the date of starting event, recidivism is distinguished and studied according to recidivism periods (windows). Depending on the dimensions of recidivism window, individuals are considered to have recidivated if committed crime within recidivism window (Prisoner Recidivism, n.d.). According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics from April 2, 2011 (fig. 1) the percentage of prisoners who were rearrested, readjudicated, reconvicted, reincarcerated and reimprisoned within various recidivism windows is the following:

Fig. 1. Recidivism rates of prisoners released in 1994 from prisons in 15 States. Prisoners were convicted for committing homicide, rape, other sexual assaults, robbery, assault, other violent crimes, burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft, other property crimes, drug possession, drug trafficking and driving under the influence. Prisoners are taken in total without discrimination of sex, age at release, race, ethnicity, prior arrests,

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

imprisonment history and time served. The results show, that within 6 months, 1 year, two years and three years after release accordingly, 32.8%, 47.6%, 62.9%, 70.8% of released prisoners were rearrested, 13.9%, 27.9%, 45.4%56.1% were readjudicated, 11.4%, 23.2%, 39.3%, 49.9% were reconvicted, 8.8%, 18.3%, 31.4%, 40.5% were reincarcerated and, what is important to outline, 5.2%, 11.1%, 20.5%, 27.5% were reimprisoned. According to Patrick A. Langan and David J. Levin (2002): Among nearly 300,000 prisoners released in 15 States in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years. A study of 1983 releases estimated 62.5%. (p. 1). Thus, in comparison with those released in 1983 the number of rearrested of those released in 1994 increased in 5%. The dynamics is not very promising. Taking into account demographic characteristics the situation is the following: men 26.2%, women 17.3%; blacks 28.5%, whites 22.6%; non-Hispanics 57.3%, Hispanics 51.9%; under 18 80%, 45 and older 45.3% were resentenced to prison for a new crime (p. 7). Prisoners with high rate of imprisonment were convicted for crimes connected with money, whereas prisoners convicted for non-material crimes had lower rate of imprisonment. Non-material crimes include rapes, other sexual assaults, other violent offends and driving under the influence. People, convicted for sexual crimes, are more reluctant to come back to prison for highly negative attitude from the side of prisoners with non-sexual crimes. And that is why they may commit crimes of other nature or change their behavior. The following statistics confirms the statements above: Within the first 3 years of the release of the 272,111 prisoners - 21.6% were rearrested for a violent offense, 31.9% for a property offense, 30.3% for a drug offense, 28.3% for a public-order offense, 0.8% were rearrested for homicide, 0.6% for rape, 13.7% for assault, 9.9% for burglary (p. 8). Additionally, some of those reimprisoned are convicted for technical crime, violating the terms of release conditions.

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

The Reasons of the Return People have various and often different reasons for many things. The case of committing a crime and going back to prison or jail is not an exception. Here are some reasons to be discusses that hush released prisoners to recidivate. One of the reasons is that they have no chance to do otherwise because they cannot find job and experience social rejection (Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). Many companies do refuse to hire individuals with a felony record . Those individuals that were sentenced for violent felons would hardly find a good job after being released. People that can give job often refuse even to have an interview with former felons. In this case felons start to search means for survival and either attack people or commit property offences. As for other types of social rejection, it should be outlined, that felons are often rejected by society in many ways, beginning with a mere humane attitude. The prejudices that appear in attitudes towards felons inhibit normal interpersonal communication and support. In many cases felons may find themselves lost and hated by the entire society and in this case society may be considered as an enemy in the eyes of a felon. Taking into consideration that those felons, who served 3-5 or 5-8 and more years are freed to start new live, may never learn how to life in the extremely changed world. In many cases there is a problem to find accommodation, job and normal human treatment from the surrounding social environment. However released prisoners do find jobs, do manage to find a satisfactory place to life, may find new good friends and aim in new life. As a matter of fact it may not happen that quickly and easy as it may be desired. Though people are always a slaves of their past, they are also masters of their future, and, that is why, the reason is manageable. Another reason is prejudiced attitude from community and police in day-to-day life. It is known, that former felons would never live a normal life. When they come to a new

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

neighborhood, peoples attitudes are usually negative. Former felons homes may be vandalized. When something negative occurs in a neighborhood, police usually comes to their door first. Very often punishment by deprivation of freedom ends in life-long burden of rejection and humiliation by various means. Some felons may deserve such attitudes by the aim is not only to punish but also to change the understanding of the relations that should be in society and prevent recidivism. The very reason of why felons are likely to return to prison or jail is the lack of required support. When felons are released they should be supported as long as they are strong enough to take care of themselves. Individuals who lost their freedom many years ago may find it very hard to perform some kind of work, independently find a job, and what is more important, get accustomed to the new conditions. In prison they were told what and how to act, they were fed and dressed and after being freed they may be confused of what to do and how to behave. The above reasons lead to the final state of mind of a former felon disappointment. Ex-felons become disappointed in life and their role in it. Instead of being encouraged to live new life they are discouraged to do so. They either continue to commit crimes, search ways to return to prison or organize criminal groups for assaults and offences. One more reason to be discussed is that many felons become habitual felons and crime specialists that build their criminal career. This is the case, when people cannot live without committing a crime or are simply anti-social. After they are released, they are likely to commit crimes of any kind just because they do not want to do otherwise. They lead antisocial way of life and never lose an opportunity to do something illegal. They are sick of the world of law and obedience. They never feel good without sufferings of other people. Unfortunately such kind of people do exist are we may meet them in a crowd. Good news is

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

that individuals that are recognized as habitual felons are either isolated for a long time or other worthy punishment is imposed. Possibility to Change or Prevent There are many ways to change the situation or prevent the negative consequences of social rejection. In order to mitigate the reasons for prisoner recidivism there should be the system of support for released prisoners. Released men, women and children must be supported according to their gender, age and individual needs. The first aid that should be provided is job search and job supply. Employers should be significantly inspired to hire individuals with felony record. Giving a good job to a former felon employer may gain significant cuts in tax obligations or other benefits. There must be agencies that are specialized in support that is provided to former convicts. This support must include medical aid, psychological support, day-to-day material support until the individual gets paid for work, ability to develop and grow. The aim is to create living conditions, where released felons may find their place in society and have a chance to live a normal life. There may also be state programs of common support where former felons that became strong enough and lead a normal life help other former felons in various aspects of post-conviction life. Former felons may also be inspired to become members of non-profit social organizations or participate in social auctions. It is clear enough that every person should be given the possibility to live a normal life. Taking account that former felons are individuals of special type (in terms of socialization issues), this possibility must be maintained and supplied. State must control every felon released during the early days after the release. Then the control may be in the form of a small support if the person acts accordingly. Felons should be obliged to find job after release, and they must be given job options to ensure their chances.

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

Conclusion Felons do return to prisons. More than that, almost 80% of felons are rearrested and reimprisoned during first three years after release. The number of those felons that return to prisons significantly increases every decade. Analysis of statistical data reveals the criminal portrait of various criminal groups differentiated according to gender, age, ethnicity, imprisonment history and time served peculiarities. Among reasons that of felons return to jail or prisons are inability to find job, social rejection, psychological pressure, inability for self-realization, violation of terms of release conditions and criminal preoccupation. Felons commit crimes, and sometimes, commit new crimes. Some do commit to return to prison and some commit offences because cannot do otherwise. There is a number of possibilities to mitigate the negative impact of various social and psychological factors that cause prisoner recidivism. Their implementation depends on the state programs and day-to-day support during the first period after release. Many of those returned felons might have changed if they had a chance. That is why there must be significant attempts performed, in order to make our society and laws fertile for positive changes in these kinds of issues.

ARE CONVICTED FELONS LIKELY TO RETURN TO PRISON

References Beck, A. J., & Shipley, B. (1990, April 2). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rpr83.pdf Brinkman, L., Olaghere, A., & Schirmer, S. (2010, June). State Recidivism Studies. Retrieved September 20, 2012, from The Sentencing Project: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_StateRecidivismStudies2010.pdf Correctional Programs Reduce Crime. (2010, August 23). Retrieved September 20, 2012, from Crime in America.Net: http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/08/23/correctional-programsreduce-crime-crime-in-america-net/ Frammolino, R. (1990, February 20). Paroled Felons Returning in Large Numbers : Corrections: Prison crowding and the release of inmates have doubled the number of convicted criminals coming back to L.A. Retrieved September 15, 2012, from Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-02-20/local/me-1010_1_large-numbers Habitual Felons. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2012, from North Carolina General Assembly : http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_14/Article_ 2A.pdf Johnson, K. (2010, June 23). Unlikely mentors give felons hope. Retrieved September 18, 2012, from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-06-21-reentry_N.htm Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (2002, June 2). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rpr94.pdf One Reason So Many Felons are Repeat Offenders and How to Fix It. (2008, December 15). Retrieved September 17, 2012, from Greek Politics: http://geekpolitics.com/one-reason-somany-felons-are-repeat-offenders-and-how-to-fix-it/ Percent of Released Prisoners Returning to Incarceration. (2010, September 29). Retrieved September 20, 2012, from Crime in America.Net: http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/09/29/percent-of-released-prisoners-returning-toincarceration/ Prisoner Recidivism. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2012, from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=datool&surl=/recidivism/index.cfm# Travis, J., Solomon, A. L., & Waul, M. (2001, June). From Prison To Home: The Dimensions and Consequences Of Prisoner Reentry. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Urban Institute: http://www.urban.org/pdfs/from_prison_to_home.pdf

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Wallerstedt, J. F. (1984, November 1). Retorn for Prison. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rp.pdf Zielbauer, P. v. (2003, August 4). Initiatives Aim to Halt Cycle Of Felons Returning to Jail. Retrieved September 18, 2012, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/04/nyregion/initiatives-aim-to-halt-cycle-of-felonsreturning-to-jail.html

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Appendix I
Bureau of Justice Statistics Report title: Recidivism rates of prisoners with selected characteristics released in 1994 from prisons in 15 States Data source: Bureau of Justice Statistics Resource: Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., BJS Supervisory Statistician Refer questions to: askbjs@usdoj.gov or (202) 307-0765 Date of version: 02/04/11
Selection Criteria for this analysis Age at Prior Arrests Release White, Black, OtherUnknown Race Sentencing Offense

< 2, 2 to 4, 5 to 9 Homicide, Rape, Other Sexual Assault, Robbery, Assault, Other Violent Crime, Burglary, LarcenyTheft and MVT, Other Property Crime, Drug Possesion, Drug Trafficking, DUI, Other Public Order Crime Yes, No, Unknown 6 or less, 7 to 12, 13 to 24, 25 to 48, More than 48, Unknown

Sex

Ethnicity

Male, Female Hispanic, NonHispanic, Unknown

Imprisonment History Time Served

Recidivism rates of prisoners with selected characteristics released in 1994 from prisons in 15 States Months 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Rearrest 7.4% 11.3% 15.5% 18.8% 22.0% 24.8% 27.7% 30.1% 32.4% 34.4% 36.6% 38.7% 39.9% 41.5% 43.0% 44.4% Readjudicate 1.2% 2.6% 4.3% 6.1% 7.9% 10.2% 12.3% 14.4% 16.2% 17.9% 19.5% 21.5% 23.1% 24.6% 26.1% 27.8% Reconvict 1.0% 2.1% 3.4% 5.0% 6.4% 8.2% 9.8% 11.4% 13.0% 14.4% 15.7% 17.3% 18.6% 19.9% 21.2% 22.8% Reincarcerate Reimprison 0.9% 0.4% 1.7% 0.9% 2.8% 1.4% 3.8% 2.1% 4.9% 3.0% 6.2% 4.0% 7.4% 4.6% 8.6% 5.4% 9.8% 6.2% 11.2% 7.1% 12.2% 7.9% 13.4% 8.7% 14.5% 9.4% 15.6% 10.2% 16.7% 10.9% 17.9% 11.7%

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17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

45.7% 46.9% 48.0% 49.1% 50.3% 51.6% 52.3% 53.3% 54.2% 55.2% 56.2% 57.0% 57.7% 58.3% 59.0% 59.7% 60.4% 61.1% 61.6% 62.2%

29.2% 30.5% 31.8% 32.9% 33.9% 35.0% 36.1% 37.2% 38.4% 39.4% 40.4% 41.4% 42.3% 43.2% 44.0% 44.9% 45.6% 46.5% 47.3% 47.8%

24.0% 25.3% 26.5% 27.6% 28.5% 29.4% 30.4% 31.5% 32.6% 33.6% 34.6% 35.4% 36.3% 37.0% 37.9% 38.9% 39.6% 40.5% 41.2% 41.7%

19.0% 20.0% 20.9% 21.8% 22.4% 23.1% 23.9% 24.9% 25.9% 26.6% 27.4% 28.1% 28.8% 29.6% 30.4% 31.0% 31.7% 32.4% 32.9% 33.4%

12.4% 13.2% 13.9% 14.5% 15.0% 15.5% 16.2% 17.0% 17.7% 18.2% 18.9% 19.1% 19.6% 20.2% 20.6% 21.0% 21.5% 22.0% 22.4% 22.7%

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