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Concept: Recidivism


Methadone is an effective treatment for opioid dependence. When people who are receiving methadone maintenance treatment for opioid dependence are incarcerated in prison or jail, most US correctional facilities discontinue their methadone treatment, either gradually, or more often, abruptly. This discontinuation can cause uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal and renders prisoners susceptible to relapse and overdose on release. We aimed to study the effect of forced withdrawal from methadone upon incarceration on individuals' risk behaviours and engagement with post-release treatment programmes.

Concepts: Morphine, Addiction, Heroin, Prison, Methadone, Corrections, Recidivism, Penology


We build an agent-based model of incarceration based on the susceptible-infected-suspectible (SIS) model of infectious disease propagation. Our central hypothesis is that the observed racial disparities in incarceration rates between Black and White Americans can be explained as the result of differential sentencing between the two demographic groups. We demonstrate that if incarceration can be spread through a social influence network, then even relatively small differences in sentencing can result in large disparities in incarceration rates. Controlling for effects of transmissibility, susceptibility and influence network structure, our model reproduces the observed large disparities in incarceration rates given the differences in sentence lengths for White and Black drug offenders in the USA without extensive parameter tuning. We further establish the suitability of the SIS model as applied to incarceration by demonstrating that the observed structural patterns of recidivism are an emergent property of the model. In fact, our model shows a remarkably close correspondence with California incarceration data. This work advances efforts to combine the theories and methods of epidemiology and criminology.

Concepts: Scientific method, Infectious disease, United States, Sociology, Theory, Criminology, Recidivism, Incarceration


Women are entering US prisons at nearly double the rate of men and are the fastest growing prison population. Current extant literature focuses on the prevalence of the incarceration of women, but few studies exist that emphasize the different trajectories to prison. For example, women prisoners have greater experiences of prior victimization, more reports of mental illness, and higher rates of illicit substance use. The purpose of this study was to understand the prevalence of childhood victimization and its association with adult mental health problems, substance abuse disorders, and further sexual victimization. The research team interviewed a random sample of 125 women prisoners soon to be released from prison to gather information on their childhood physical and sexual victimization, mental health and substance abuse problems as an adult, and sexual victimization in the year preceding incarceration. Results indicate that women prisoners in this sample, who were both physically and sexually victimized as children, were more likely to be hospitalized as an adult for a psychological or emotional problem. Women who were sexually victimized or both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to attempt suicide. Women who experienced physical victimization as children and women who were both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to have a substance use disorder and women who were sexually abused as children or both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to be sexually abused in the year preceding prison. This article ends with a discussion about prisons' role in providing treatment for women prisoners and basing this treatment on women’s trajectories to prison, which disproportionately include childhood victimization and subsequent mental health and substance use problems.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Prison, Abuse, Substance abuse, Bullying, Victimisation, Recidivism, Victim blaming


Māori are overrepresented in the criminal justice system in Aotearoa New Zealand. Māori offenders comprise 53% of those serving custodial sentences and 48% serving community-based sentences. The majority of Māori offenders reoffended within 2 years of serving their sentence. A number of programmes aimed at reducing recidivism among Māori have been implemented, and there is considerable debate around the effectiveness of these programmes. This qualitative study focuses on the narratives of four Māori male ex-inmates about their reoffending and their experiences of the rehabilitation programmes during their incarceration. Using a narrative approach, the study sought to hear the shared stories from the men and to determine what they believe would have reduced their reoffending. The stories revealed that a lack of financial resources and gang connections influenced reoffending; the value of prison rehabilitation programmes varied depending on their appropriateness to the inmate and to their intended outcomes; and healing programmes incorporating kaupapa Māori principles and practices assisted the participants in understanding their cultural heritage and communicating with society in more acceptable ways.

Concepts: Crime, Criminal law, New Zealand, Prison, Criminal justice, Punishment, Recidivism, Māori


This study aimed to systematically review the effectiveness of risk assessment tools in predicting sexual recidivism of adult male offenders.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Evaluation, Sex offender, Risk assessment, Recidivism


Hundreds of thousands of youth are held every year in U.S. juvenile justice detention centers and incarceration facilities. Increasingly it is known that these facility placements are at best ineffective and at worst lead to additional youth recidivism outcomes. What is most concerning, though, is that a majority of these incarcerated youth have one or more mental health/substance abuse disorders, special education disabilities, or maltreatment victimization histories-comorbid situations that negatively impact their involvement with the juvenile courts. In this article the authors summarize the epidemiology of these youth problems within the juvenile justice system. The authors then compare the outcome evidence for the youth placed in juvenile justice facilities with those placed in residential treatment centers, finding significant advantages to addressing the problems through rehabilitative efforts. Recognizing that there are a small number of serious youthful offenders who will need placement, their analysis finds that the juvenile courts must continue (or in many instances begin) reshaping their detention and incarceration facilities reliance on punishment toward a rehabilitative residential model.

Concepts: Sociology, Crime, Criminology, Prison, Juvenile delinquency, Abuse, Recidivism, Incarceration


The incarceration of criminal offenders in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. One way to scale back the prison population is by using empirical risk assessment methods to apportion prison sentences based on the likelihood of the offender recidivating, so-called “evidence-based sentencing.” This practice has been denounced by some legal scholars, who claim that the use of certain empirically relevant risk factors-including gender, age, and race-is plainly immoral. This study tested whether lay individuals share their sentiment. More than 600 participants weighted to be representative of the United States population were asked about the extent to which they would support imposing shorter sentences for old versus young offenders, female versus male offenders, and white versus black offenders, all else being equal. The results indicate that very few participants (<3%) had no settled opinion about using evidence-based sentencing, and approximately half were unequivocally opposed to the practice. Whereas more than 3-quarters of participants were against using race to determine prison sentences, almost half were open to the possibility of using gender and more than 3-quarters of the participants were open to the possibility of using age to determine prison sentences. Individual differences as a function of participants' own demographic characteristics, or of their belief in "just deserts" as the primary purpose of sentencing, or of their political outlook, were either inconsistently or meagerly related to these findings. The profoundly disparate views held by the general public regarding the use of specific risk factors do not bode well for the use of demographic risk factors in sentencing as a way to roll back mass incarceration. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Male, Risk, United States, Sociology, United Kingdom, Prison, Risk assessment, Recidivism


Sexual interest in children is a well-known risk factor for sexual reoffending (recidivism). The present study examined the relationship between sexual interest in prepubescent children (pedophilia) or pubescent children (hebephilia) and sexual recidivism. It extended previous work by using multiple indicators of sexual interest, using a more sensitive phallometric procedure that measures change in penile blood volume, and examining both hebephilia alongside pedophilia, as well as noncontact sexual recidivism.

Concepts: Present, Blood, Puberty, Human development, Pedophilia, Penis, Recidivism, Hebephilia


Criminal justice system involvement is common among persons with serious mental illness in community treatment settings. Various intervention strategies are used to prevent criminal recidivism among justice-involved individuals, including mental health courts, specialty probation, and conditional release programs. Despite differences in these approaches, most involve the use of legal leverage to promote treatment adherence. Evidence supporting the effectiveness of leverage-based interventions at preventing criminal recidivism is mixed, however, with some studies suggesting that involving criminal justice authorities in mental health treatment can increase recidivism rates. The effectiveness of interventions that utilize legal leverage is likely to depend on several factors, including the ability of mental health and criminal justice staff to work together. Collaboration is widely acknowledged as essential in managing justice-involved individuals, yet fundamental differences in goals, values, and methods exist between mental health and criminal justice professionals. This article presents a six-step conceptual framework for optimal mental health-criminal justice collaboration to prevent criminal recidivism among individuals with serious mental illness who are under criminal justice supervision in the community. Combining best practices from each field, the stepwise process includes engagement, assessment, planning and treatment, monitoring, problem solving, and transition. Rationale and opportunities for collaboration at each step are discussed.

Concepts: Law, Crime, Criminal law, Mental disorder, Mental illness, Prison, Criminal justice, Recidivism


To systematically review recidivism rates internationally, report whether they are comparable and, on the basis of this, develop best reporting guidelines for recidivism.

Concepts: Report, Best practice, Recidivism