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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 150154 Find in a Library
Title: Punishment and Recidivism
Journal: Keepers' Voice  Volume:15  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1994)  Pages:34-37
Author(s): G Newbold
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Prison does little to prepare inmates for law-abiding, independent living after their release, so recidivism of young offenders is to be expected.
Abstract: The philosophy of the criminal justice system since the Enlightenment over two centuries ago is that all people are rational and will manage their behaviors so as to avoid adverse situations and promote fulfilling and pleasurable outcomes. The threat of prison terms, whose length varies according to offense severity as determined by legislators, is supposed to cause people to avoid behaviors that may incur imprisonment. Such a philosophy misunderstands what motivates and influences human behavior. Human behavior is based more in passion, imitation, convenience, opportunity, and emotional needs than in rational assessments of the rewards and punishments potentially attached to them. Abuse and neglect in the family; peer enticements to predatory and acquisitive behavior; and limited opportunities for constructive social bonding, education, and vocational training are the parameters within which criminal behaviors are forged. Prison becomes a part of this counterculture, and prison does little to introduce inmates to the dominant culture's values, socialization, and legitimate economic behaviors. Upon release back into the neighborhoods and social bonds of the counterculture, recidivism and a return to prison is likely. Statistics show that aging is the most significant factor in the diminishment of criminal behavior. People tend to change when they get tired of the risks, the hassle, and the futility of counterculture behaviors and outcomes.
Main Term(s): Corrections effectiveness
Index Term(s): Criminal career patterns; Criminology; Deterrence effectiveness; Effects of imprisonment; Prison conditions; Recidivism causes
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