Recidivism research – Term Paper

Recidivism in the US

Zoukish (2014) identifies that the United States accounts for only 5% of the total world population. Despite accounting for this low percentage of the population, it has the highest record of incarcerated people compared to any state in the world. Approximately seven hundred and sixteen in every one hundred thousand Americans are jailed.  These demographics translate to about one in every one hundred being in the cells. Some of these cases are attributable to people with a history of repeated criminality (Copestake, Gray & Snowden, 2013).  The Attorney General committed to change the policy of the Justice Department to reduce this high number of people in the prisons. This change would allow for non-violent and low-level criminals not affiliated to be linked to a dangerous organization or cartels not to be charged aggressively. Furthermore, most correctional facilities are improving their services to inmates to include proper vocational training and provision of adequate healthcare to avoid hardening them. The poor condition of the cells is determined to be among the main courses of re-offending as they turn first-time offenders into hard-core criminals who defy existing regulations or sanctions put against them while serving their jail terms (Deady, 2014). 

Emotional Health Support Programs to Prevent Recidivism

There is a close relationship between one’s emotional status and the probability of committing crimes. For instance, when an individual permanently views himself as being unworthy or targeted by the society, he is likely to develop aggressive behavior. Therefore, emotional health support program for inmates and ex-offenders are aimed towards improving their social adaptability, promote the success of integration into the society, and reduce their likelihood of getting back to criminal lifestyles (Pena-Sarrionandia, Mikolajczak & Gross, 2015). One aspect of the emotional health support program is the emotional intelligence interventions whose aim is to improve the ability of the offenders to perceive their own and the other people’s emotions as well (Gardner, 1983). It enables them to understand the different emotions and utilize their information appropriately as a guide for constructive thoughts and positive behavior. The need for psychological interventions for criminals helps in various critical areas such as: helping in nurturing positive thoughts and behavior. Research indicates that having a positive perception of life and its challenges improves the ability of people to cope with the job and academic expectations (Hirschi, Travis & Michael, 1977). An optimist takes challenges, as temporary events that would pass hence are more focused and less distracted by changing situations. On the contrary, pessimists perceive problems as enormous and permanent thus seek for alternative and easier ways to overcome them. Emotional support also helps in the proper management of stress. Individuals who have control over their depressive situations perform better in life. 

Among the ex-offenders, the challenge of being unemployed for some time after release impose on them some stress which they have to learn how best to manage. Psychological interventions foster improved self-regulation. Self-regulation involves the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses. It enables people to act based on informed decisions, which is essential in preventing violent activities or getting into conflict with other members of the society. It is a composite of self-awareness, which is nurtured over time through reinforcement of mood perceptions, motivations, and feelings. Sculderi (2013) asserts that psychological support, especially emotional intelligence development contributes to an overall success in life, good physical health, mental calmness, formation of supportive social relationships, and high conflict resolution skills. Emotional intelligence forms an important component of the general intelligence.  It influences brain functioning and nurtures positive behavior patterns (Grohol, 2013). Moreover, EI is an important trait that affects processing of emotional information and promotes social behavior (Cote, DeCelles, McCarthy, Van Kleef & Hideg, 2011). EI changes the nature of peer relations and socio-emotional abilities (Frederickson, Petrides & Simmonds, 2011).

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Male vs female crime statistics

In the United States, there was a marked increase in the number of incarcerated women in the 1990s. This trend is attributable to the increasing involvement of women in property related crimes, especially drug smuggling and use for which stringent laws have been imposed as a mechanism to prevent drug dealings. Bloom, Chesney-Lind, & Owen (1994) records that most of the women who have been imprisoned in the United States prison system are found guilty of dealing in drugs or committing property offenses related to such drugs (Nicholls, Ogloff, J. R. P., Brink & Spidel, 2005). Between 1990 and 2000, the total number of female inmates increased by approximately 108% while that of the males increased by about 77% during the same period (Harrison & Beck, 2006). During 1995 to 2005, the rate of female arrests rose from 47 to 64 per one hundred thousand. During this same period (1995-2005), the rate of male arrests increased by 136 per one hundred thousand people (Harrison & Beck, 2006). By mid-2005, the absolute number of women sentenced to the state and federal prisons recorded a marked increase from 12000 in the 1980s to over 106,000 at the mid of the year 2005. As at mid-2005, the female inmates accounted for 7% of the total jail population in the US (Harrison & Beck, 2006). The factors causing the increase in women prisoners and offenders differ from that of men. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Harrison & Beck, 2003), the rising male offenders is associated with their involvement in violent crimes while for the women, they deal in drugs which account for a greater proportion of their offenses. 

According to the gender specific theory of female criminality, gender has significant imperatives on the criminal offenses committed. This fact is contrary to the traditional paradigms that seem to focus mainly on male offenders (Blanchette & Brown, 2006). Despite the fact that males and female offenders may share the risk factors for criminal acts, there is a qualitative and quantitative variation on how such factors affect the women (Salisbury & Van Voorhis, 2009). DeHart (2008) posits that the criminal behavior among women is adopted as a way of trying to survive (survival strategy). On the other hand, Salisbury and Van Voorhis (2009) hold that three pathways lead to the susceptibility of females to crime. These ways include childhood victimization, rational choice and social and human path (Milojevic, Dimitrijevic, Marjanovic & Dimitrijevic, 2016). Of significant influence on the gender-specific theory is the role that having a victim background plays in determining future propensity to commit criminal offenses (Gardner, Boccaccini, Edens, & Bitting, 2015).

Crime statistics by gender

 Feminist perspectives portray women as predominant victims of a wide range of assault such as sexual molestation as compared to the males (Lowenkamp, Holsinger, & Latessa, 2001). Greenfeld and Snell (1999) recorded that out of every ten incarcerated women in state prison, six of them have a history of sexual abuse of physical assault. Apart from being targets of sexual assault in the community, the female inmates are also at a higher risk of sexual victimization while at the state prison. This vice committed against the female inculcate in them a victim mentality that pervades all their activities, choices and relationships (Copestake, Gray & Snowden, 2013). The proponents of the gender-specific model posit that a traumatizing background borne by women result into other two risk factors for crime including recidivism and criminal behavior. A study of the role of victimization on female offending and their mental health found out that a history of victimization does not form primary criteria for predicting recidivism within the first year of their release from prison. However, it is associated with higher levels of stress and other mental health problems (Anumba, DeMatteo, & Heilbrun, 2012). 

On a general perspective, most offenders express high levels of emotional stress, which make them irresponsive to various correctional interventions of sanctions imposed against them. Failure of corrective approaches results in both male and female offenders’ recidivating to criminal activities. It is implicit that women, due to their exposure to a variety of stressing conditions in both childhood and adulthood such as sexual violence, they develop a victim mentality. Goleman (2006) establishes the relationship between emotional intelligence and recidivism by submitting that most offenders are victims of mental instability (Garcia-Sancho, Salguero & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2014). This mental instability is more common among women due to the societal expectations of them as caregivers and homemakers.