Crime recidivism in USA






Crime recidivism in USA

Crime recidivism is a situation whereby a person relapses into previous crime and is rearrested and reconvicted due to repetition of crime within a span of three years from the previous conviction (Brandon and Farmington, 2009, 197). A study in forty one states of the US has indicated that the rate of relapse into crime by people who have been previously convicted and punished according to the US penal code has escalated highly. Penitentiary institutions were established in the US not only to punish law offenders but to also to reform them. However, recently this has not been the case. Prisons have by a big margin failed in their work of preventing future crime especially by previous offenders. A research done for about a decade has hit the country with a shocking revelation that the rate of criminal recidivism stands about forty five percent. This is a clear proof that the penitentiary institutions have fallen short of their expectations.

Effects of punishments

In the US various approaches are used to deter future crime. The prisons department has been tasked with the role of rehabilitating the criminals who have been convicted by the legal system (Champion, 2011, 98). Rehabilitation of law offender is vital as it deters them from relapsing into crime. The system also prevents potential criminals indirectly in fear of getting convicted and undergoing the dreary punishments administered by the prisons. A punishment can be termed to be an undesirable act or process imposed on an individual that subjects them to suffering due to an offence they committed. The penitentiary institutions use various ways of punishment on the criminals depending on the type of crime committed. The various justifications for punishment include; deterrence, rehabilitation, societal protection and retribution (Chander, 2013, 107). Each of them has a different effect on the convict and helps to prevent re-occurrence of crime in its own way.

Retribution is a form of punishment in which the convicted criminals are subjected to suffering and torture in a bid to make them feel a pinch of the crime they committed. This may be executed in the form of torture to the convicts. They may be subjected to hard and unpaid labour, strokes of the cane, life sentence and even execution. The magnitude of the retributive punishment is directly proportional to the crime committed. An example is when a person commits murder it automatically means that the murderer is to be executed. Basically, this form of punishment gives a tooth for a tooth and a nail for a nail kind of repayment to the law offenders. This method is very effective in prevention of crime in the United States of America as. The criminal is made to suffer for the damage caused and this gives a satisfaction to the society. It instills fear in potential criminals having in mind the devastating results of crime (Julie, 2013, 147). However the method is detrimental especially if the punishment is capital. If the criminal is executed or confined for life it has adverse effects to their family members.

The other reason for punishing law offenders is deterrence. This is the attempt to prevent occurrence of crime in future. This type of punishment works by making aware to the general public the harm that comes with breaking the rules and regulation of the country. Once each a very person is aware of the punishments they would be subjected to after committing a certain crime, they avoid any crime as much as possible. It enables one to measure the benefits and pleasure brought by performance of particular outlawed practice against the possible consequences and hence sober decisions are made. For instance a person driving late to New York for work is deterred from over speeding bearing in mind the fines or jail term to be served (Brandon and Farrington, 2009, 227).

Rehabilitation is a reform process rather than a punishment. The person involved in the crime is subjected to a series of reform classes in a bid to transform them from their lawless nature to a law abiding citizen. This form of punishment is mainly administered to petty crime offenders and drug addicts. In all penitentiary institutions in the USA there are rehabilitation officers and counselors who have the skills to transform lives of law offenders (Champion, 2011, 28). Most of the rehabilitees are put on probation after they have undergone through the rehabilitation course. Probation is a period of time in which the law offender is kept under the watchful eye of the authorities (Chander, 2013, 109). During this period the person is expected to maintain strict adherence to the law. Rehabilitation is effective in preventing recidivism. Research has proved that good number of persons who have undergone rehabilitation rarely return to crime.

The last justification for punishment of criminals is societal protection. Peace and harmony are essential in the co-existence of various groups in the society. Crime is the main hindrance to peaceful coexistence among people in the society. The laws made by the legislature in the US are mainly formulated to protect the interests of the general public. In this method of crime prevention, the criminal is confined in the prison cell for a given period of time depending on the magnitude of the crime committed or permanent execution of the criminal is done. Confinement of the criminal makes them incapable of committing further crime and hence saves the society from the consequences of any possible crime (Champion, 2011, 276). The time spent in prison may result in transformation of the criminal into a new lawful being. This transformation is beneficial to the society at large as peace ensues.

The retributive punishment is the most effective in crime prevention in the USA today. Most people today abide to the law in a bid to escape the consequences of violating the set rules (Julie, 2013, 147). The better part of the population like enjoying freedom and are not fond of undergoing harsh treatment. Punishments such as confinement, corporal punishment and execution instill fear of committing crime in most individual.

Justice is like a double edged sword. Punishments administered to the law offenders are beneficial both to the criminals and to the society at large. The main benefit that accrues to the law breaker is transformation. The penitentiary institution take reform measures against crime offenders to prevent future relapse. Rehabilitation processes save the offenders from bad undesirable habits like drug abuse. On the other hand uproot and punishment of criminals is vital to the society’s welfare. It ensures the peace of the society when there is less or no crime. Therefore we can conclude that criminal should be subjected to punishment for their own benefit and for the good of the society.


Brandon, C and Farrington, P. (2009). The Oxford handbook of crime prevention. New York: Oxford University press.

Chander, A. (2013). A study in the doctrine of the constitution. Texas law review journal. Volume 91, issue 6. Pages 107-115)

Champion, D. (2011). Crime prevention in America. New Jersey: McGraw-Hill.

Julie, E. (2013). A presumptive in custody. American journal of criminal law. Volume 40, issue 2. Pages 145-147.