What Methods Are Used to Reduce Recidivism?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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In many communities, citizens are concerned with efforts to reduce recidivism in order to reduce crime rates within communities and avoid the problem of criminals becoming trapped in a life of crime. Efforts to reduce recidivism include victim offender mediation, educational and career programs, as well as special courts for individuals with substance abuse or mental health problems. In addition, workers in the criminal justice system, such as parole and probation officers, may also offer more comprehensive casework services to assist those with a criminal record in developing good relationships within their families and communities so that they are motivated to stay out of jail and to maintain their connections with their neighbors, loved ones, and workplace.


Many sociologists and criminal justice experts recognize that it is difficult for someone with a criminal background to stay out of trouble if he is unable to earn a living. As such, some programs to reduce recidivism focus on teaching offenders job skills while they are in prison and, in some cases, offering job placement services after the offender is released back into society. While in custody, an inmate may be provided with literacy classes as well as the opportunity to earn a secondary education diploma or even a higher education degree. In addition, these inmates may be provided with the opportunity to learn job skills while in prison, often by working in one of the various prison industries that operate in a correctional facility. After release, some programs assist offenders with furthering their job skills, helping to match offenders with jobs and in some cases inviting an offender to participate in a business that is run by and on the behalf of offenders who are re-entering society.

In some areas, special courts exist to try cases in which the defendant is mentally ill, a substance abuser, or a combination of the two. These courts recognize that individuals who are mentally ill or substance addicted have special needs that can make it difficult for them to respond well to typical recidivism reduction programs. Judges and court officials are trained in the special needs of these populations and work to reduce recidivism by structuring the court process and the supervision of an offender to meet the needs of those who may have difficulty following instructions or who are attempting to achieve or maintain sobriety. These special courts are not available in all areas, though there is evidence that they do reduce recidivism in the communities where they exist.


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Post 3

@Ana1234 - It has definitely happened in the past that people will prefer to live in prison than to be released, but I don't think it's a very common situation. Most people would rather be free and living on the streets.

But I don't think it has to be that way. Crime gets committed in the first place because people are desperate. Reducing poverty and reducing recidivism is basically the same thing, in my mind and a lot of it depends on making sure people have marketable skills and that there are jobs available for them.

Post 2

@bythewell - I actually think rates of recidivism are due almost as much to conditions outside prison as they are to conditions inside. In prison a person at least has a roof over their head and three meals a day. If they are the kind of person who would otherwise be homeless they might prefer to commit a crime and get caught.

I think they should provide inspiration for inmates who can get themselves out of the cycle of poverty. But that's not possible for all of them. And the better they are treated in prison the more likely they are going to want to return there.

Post 1

As a country, people really have to make up their minds what they would prefer to do. Get revenge on people who commit crimes, or make the world a safer place for everyone. Because if you treat criminals badly you end up making them into worse criminals.

There's that saying you often hear where a criminal will say they entered prison with a diploma of misdemeanor and graduated with a PhD in violence. That happens because people in prison are not encouraged to be better citizens. They are only punished for being bad citizens.

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