Recidivism Efforts Are Not Successful


By Pyerse Dandridge
Author: Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp

The study and analysis of the risk of recidivism for men require ongoing investigation. Clinical trials are a primary option for determining explanations for repeat offenders, but studying the subject statistically, analysts look at the matter from socioeconomic standpoints. For example, African American men who did not finish high school would be compared to others using the same characteristics based on gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other similar factors. It is suggested that those from a similar background would experience comparable risks for repeat offenses.

Many analysts have attempted to find the proper determinate of predicting recidivism. However, the fact remains that though the data predicts an outcome, resolution for the prevention of recidivism has yet to make a significant mark in life after incarceration. I believe the failures of recidivism have a lot to do with inmates returning home to the same or worse conditions. When I returned home, I discouraged looking for quality housing and employment. Yes, I could find a minimum waged job any day of the week, but that job would have been in a poor work environment and wouldn’t have paid me enough to maintain a quality home. Frustrated with my search, I found myself tempted to return to prison because I found it easier to be there than to figure out how to survive the civilian world.

The average percentage of repeat offenders is over 50% returning to incarceration within 3 years of release. Statistics, tests, and studies will show several different answers and opinions on why past offenders repeat the same crime or commit new crimes. However, the commonality amongst most socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic lines remains that these men are often unable to reenter society without crashing into the same situations they were under before. Many men who have committed crimes are unable to gain legitimate employment due to large gaps in employment history, lack of education, and stigmas based on their past indiscretions.

Because of my crime, I found myself working at low waged jobs that refused to pay me more than I’m worth. To make enough money to get by, I would have to work long hours and possible cut back on entertainment and investing in future. To prevent working at these jobs and to avoid discrimination, I would work to become self-employed.  However, when I tried to apply for jobs based on my degree in English, I found that I didn’t have the people skills, the experience, or the connections to get the job. My job experience was in restaurants and changing careers meant I had to compete with individuals with more experience than me. If it turned out that I didn’t have those connections, then I found that my criminal background would disqualify from employment.  Until myself employment is covering my living expenses, I find that it’s better to live as cheaply as possible, such as at my parents’ house.

The inability to find housing and provide for oneself is another issue. My first apartment was a studio in Oak Park. Oak Park is a poverty stricken and crime-riddled area of Sacramento. But the place was cheap and the landlord didn’t mind me having a felony. I spend my childhood years in the suburbs, so this part of town was different to me. However, no one gave me any issues. However, no matter now much I tried, I couldn’t get out of that area because of my felony and my lack of quality employment.  Several former inmates are sent back into Oak Park and similar places. Without a deep believe in their abilities and in themselves, they could be stuck in same conditions and unable to get their education to transition or gain better opportunities.

In addition, men are often released and reconnected with past troubles such as family problems, mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies, etc. An individual’s community, employment options, and housing play a large role in the likelihood to reoffend. Without legitimate guidance and fair opportunities, it is very difficult to rebuild without proper tools.

Though the criminal justice system attempts to do the primary job of apprehending criminals, it is often stated those attempts are not adjusted as well for the aftermath of the arrest.  As I mentioned in my book Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp, prison does nothing to help the inmates readjust to society. Thus, the rising amount of recidivism in this country has yet to be solved. Overcrowding and poor living conditions often leave inmates with little choice than to do what is necessary to survive. Sometimes those choices made inside the walls of correctional facilities follow these men when they reenter society, and the cycle continues.

Analysts continue to attempt to predict the risk of recidivism. The goal is to differentiate between high and low-risk offenders in order to parallel sentencing, prevent overcrowding, and save longer and necessary sentences for extremely dangerous offenders. The risk remains, however, that returning to society often leaves offenders unable to make a living, eat, or provide without running into roadblocks left and right. Though these men have served their time, it is safe to say recidivism possibly exists because it never quite feels, to them, as though they have.