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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70759 Find in a Library
Title: Study on the Recidivism of Offenders Paroled After 15 Years of Imprisonment and Views on the Erosion of Very Long Sentences
Journal: Revue de science criminelle et de droit penal compare  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1979)  Pages:279-301
Author(s): M Fize; P Chemithe
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 23
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The characteristics, sentences, time served and recidivism of 169 inmates released from 1968 to 1972 after at least 15 years imprisonment are explored in a study by the French National Center for Penitentiary Research.
Abstract: The 169 subjects had passed their prison terms in 14 different penitentiaries throughout the country. More than two-thirds of the releasees were between 35 and 50 years old, over 75 percent were from provinces outside the Paris area, and about 77 percent were single, divorced, or separated. More than 80 percent of their offenses were for crimes against persons, and in many cases the offenses were multiple. About 84 percent had received life sentences or the death penalty, almost half had had no previous convictions, and the vast majority served between 15 and 25 years. Almost 95 percent of the offenders were paroled. Nineteen of the releasees (11.2 percent) reverted to criminal activities. Most cases of recidivism occurred between 1 and 5 years after release, less than half in the first 3 years. Recidivists committed four times more offenses against property than against persons (57.1 versus 14.3 percent); theft was the most frequent cause of new convictions. The usual result of new convictions was a short or moderate prison term. Recidivism was most common for individuals who served terms of 15 to 20 years and dropped sharply for others. Recidivism rates were highest for individuals who had committed property crimes, who were 50 to 55 years old when released, and who had had a large number of prior convictions. Recidivism rates appeared not to be significantly affected by the prison regime or the reason for release (i.e., end of term or parole). The most significant factors in recidivism were individual characteristics such as age, duration of pronounced sentence, and previous record. Statistics on the erosion of time actually served by inmates with commuted death penalties show that the actual sentences served in 18 cases ranged from 17 to 23 years, with an average of 20 years. For 124 cases of life imprisonment, the longest term actually served was 27 years and 9 months and the shortest 8 years, with an average of 18 years and 10 months. Parole was the principal reason for reduction of time served in 70 percent of the cases. Comparison of the two groups suggests that the longest sentences are served by individuals sentenced to life imprisonment, not by individuals with commuted death penalties. This raises the question of whether the death penalty and life imprisonment can be considered different categories of punishment, especially as the recidivism rates and the nature of the original offense are similar for the two penalties. Tables and several notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; France; Inmate classification; Life sentences; Offense classification; Pardon; Parole; Recidivism; Sentencing disparity; Time served
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