Sunday, August 26, 2012

Harsher criminal justice sanctions had no deterrent effect on recidivism

The overall findings showed that harsher criminal justice sanctions had no deterrent effect on recidivism. On the contrary, punishment produced a slight (3%) increase in recidivism. These findings were consistent across subgroups of offenders (adult/youth, male/female, white/minority).

Compared to community sanctions, imprisonment was associated with an increase in recidivism. Further analysis of the incarceration studies found that longer sentences were associated with higher recidivism rates. Short sentences (less than six months) had no effect on recidivism but sentences of more than two years had an average increase in recidivism of seven per cent.

Intermediate sanctions demonstrated no relationship with recidivism. This category included studies of intensive supervision, fines, boot camps, electronic monitoring, scared straight, drug testing and restitution. Once again, no differential effects were found with respect to age group, gender and race.


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The Rat said...

Really? I am shocked! Shocked I tell you to find criminals are still criminals after jail time. So, do shorter sentences mean less recidivism and if so let's just not bother sentencing criminals at all, right? What's that? There are other objectives in sentencing you say?

Seriously, though, I'd like to know what this study's definition of recidivism is given the scandalous definition used in the '90s by our Liberal friends, the one that said it was committing the exact same crime only. A car thief robs a bank? That's not recidivism!

And another question. How many convictions did one of the study subjects have on average before they got a jail sentence? I would it isn't a fair measure of jailing's success when non-custodial sentences have also failed. Maybe the criminals are just criminals and nothing will stop them if they are out. Ahh! But a longer sentence stops them for the time they are in! And that's why I support longer sentences, because I have no faith in any sentence or any treatment to "rehabilitate" career criminals.

sunsin said...

Rat, you're just gibbering. The conclusions coming out the "wrong" way for you seems to have driven you right out of your mind.

We don't give a copperplated damn what you think. It appears the data just slapped you upside the head. Live with it.

James C Morton said...

There are reasons to punish beyond deterrence. But generally the increased sentences are sold as limiting crime. That they won't do.

Anonymous said...

Rat's right, we should lock people away for good for the smallest crimes. Anything less just encourages further crime as this fine gentleman illustrates:

Anonymous said...

interesting facts
so then the question must become (in a progressive society)
what exactly deters recidivism?
or back one step further
what causes crime?(fix this and we're done)

i would like to see any sanction for the white collar criminals but you can't put a rich man in jail for some reason (unless they steal from the rich)
kid steals 1/2 ton gets 2 years
doctor double bills 2 million
gets a memo .....

James C Morton said...


Actually your point is very well taken because the only areas where stuff punishment seem to have a deterrent effect are white collar crime.


The Rat said...

James, have you ever wondered why punishment deters white collar crime and not career street criminals? Might it be that white collar criminals have sufficient intelligence to project the consequences of their crimes on their own future and street level criminals cannot? And if that is true what makes you think any level of rehabilitation of an unintelligent criminal will work when they can only measure things in the near term where a quick crime is a quick buck?

I stand by longer terms of incarceration for career criminals. We simply cannot alter the behaviour of stupid people.

The Rat said...

The more I think about this study the more questions I have. Like, who gets longer sentences? It seems to me repeat offenders get the longer sentences so how surprising is it that they commit more crimes on release than those with shorter sentences and fewer offences? How did this study control for that? A one sentence statement that those with longer sentences commit 3% more crimes upon release than those with shorter sentences seems a small number. Could it be that longer sentences reduce recidivism in the more profligate offenders? How did they rule that out? It could be that shorter sentences for heavy offenders would have produced even more crimes. The study would have had to look at individuals with similar histories and found a statistically significant difference between those with longer or shorter sentences. Again, quoting one sentence without understanding how the data was collected, compared, or analyzed shows just how little the average "progressives" understand science.

The study itself is merely a review of other studies and has no way to control for the quality of data found in each of those studies, nor for the political biases of the "researchers". These kinds of social science studies just reinforce my disdain for social "science" and I would point out that not one of these areas of study are in the faculty of science at any reputable university. For a reason.