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Recidivism in the Criminal Justice


The high rate of recidivism in American prisons results from a whole complex of reasons, the correction of which measures are not directed to a large extent. First, it is the lack of conditions for people released from prison, which would make it easier to adapt to a peaceful life (Wallace & Wang, 2020). Second, little attention is paid to every person who tends to relapse (Kreager & Kruttschnitt, 2018). During the time of imprisonment, it is possible to carry out more detailed work with criminals’ psychological or even physical problems to determine what exactly prompted them to commit illegal actions. This approach will not only improve understanding of the problem on a large scale but also identify potential causes that can be addressed to reduce both recidivism and crime in general.

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This paper discusses three sources that address each of the leading causes of relapse. Prisoners may return to prison for several reasons: lack of opportunities to adapt to society and peaceful life, stagnation in the organization of prisoners’ society, and lack of attention to the mental health of criminals. In this work, three articles are given and considered on each of these topics.


The social context is essential in relapse rates. As a rule, imprisonment is faced with the fact that upon release from prison, they have no work experience, often they lack education, which significantly blocks the path to recovery. The environment plays an important role, which can dictate its own rules for the availability of jobs, special treatment of prisoners, and much more (Hakim & Mujahidah, 2020).

Hakim & Mujahidah, in their work, devote the most attention to this aspect as the leading cause of relapse, focusing specifically on the social aspects of this issue (2020). Using the example of a repeat offender from Indonesia, the authors compare a person’s personality, formed by the environment, the country’s laws, traditions, and family, with the transformed personality of a repeat offender, which is influenced by absolutely the same determinants. The dynamics of the identity of each offender play an essential role in determining the motives for a possible relapse. The authors are experts in sociology and law, have many other works on the assessment of social aspects in the framework of criminal activity and, in particular, recidivism issues.

As a possible solution to this problem, several ways of developing this issue are proposed. In the United States, grants will again appear for people who receive education in prisons. In 2020, Donald Trump signed the second coronavirus outbreak relief package (Hakim & Mujahidah, 2020). The phenomenon of the development of the prison education system is best developed in California, while prisoners can continue their education at large. The importance of these measures is supported by studies that emphasize a decrease in the number of relapses in educated released people (Castro, 2018). This measure is the most necessary minimum to achieve the absence of relapses in general, just like education is the minimum foundation for further employment in life.

Prison’s Organizational Structure

This problem is gradually being solved by the organization of new prisons with better conditions. Old prisons are usually overcrowded and highly polluted. Criminal capital, access to rehabilitation programs, and negative prison experiences that can trigger changes in internal preferences over illegal professions are essential indicators of the quality of incarceration (Tobón, 2020). Tobón, in his article, explores the relationship between the conditions of detention of criminals and the possibility of recidivism using quasi-random distribution (2020). The author specializes in statistical research, using various statistical tools to obtain better results with sufficiently small samples.

Mental Health

Finally, the mental health of prisoners is also an essential subject of research as a determinant of potential relapse. Not only can deviations in mental health services signal studying a person’s personality, but also its other quite common indicators. Thapa et al. consider in their article criminal behavior and the possibility of relapse as dependent indicators on the level of self-esteem and gender (2021). Research shows that high self-esteem increases the likelihood of relapse more in women than in men (Thapa et al., 2021). The authors represent a union of three people, each of whom is an expert in the required field: medicine and mental health, law, and sociology, respectively. Such research is significant for a deeper understanding of the causes of recidivism.

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In this paper, three articles were analyzed, reflecting the possible causes of relapses and exploring a specific aspect of the problem in detail. It is worth noting that each relapse results from a relatively wide range of reasons that are dictated by personality traits, external influences, and experience in prison, often to varying degrees. The creation of special conditions for adaptation in society after leaving prison can bear fruit only in the case of the same comprehensive approach, which provides for a change in the structure of the organization of prisons, the possibility of receiving assistance for psychological health and education. Institutional prison changes only in this case can bear fruit, and the percentage of relapses will decrease.


Castro, E. L. (2018). Racism, the language of reduced recidivism, and higher education in prison: Toward an anti-racist praxis. Critical Education, 9(17). Web.

Hakim, M. A., & Mujahidah, D. R. (2020). Social context, interpersonal network, and identity dynamics: A social psychological case study of terrorist recidivism. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 23(1), 3-14. Web.

Kreager, D. A., & Kruttschnitt, C. (2018). Inmate society in the era of mass incarceration. Annual Review of Criminology, 1, 261-283. Web.

Thapa, S., Brown, S. L., & Skilling, T. A. (2021). The Relationship Between Self-Esteem, Gender, Criminal Attitudes, and Recidivism in a Youth Justice Sample. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 48(4), 539-555. Web.

Tobón, S. (2020). Do better prisons reduce recidivism? Evidence from a prison construction program. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 1-47. Web.

Wallace, D., & Wang, X. (2020). Does in-prison physical and mental health impact recidivism? SSM – Population Health, 11, 1-16. Web.

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