Recidivism rate worse than statistics indicate, Memphis-area study finds

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by A6Gator, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. A6Gator

    A6Gator

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    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/mar/07/recidivism-rate-worse-study-finds/

    20 years of research discovers 81 percent of former inmates end up back behind bars

    Jeff Smith had been free of drugs for four years. Two of those years were during a stay at the Shelby County Correction Center and two were while working at the Salvation Army after his release from jail. It was at the Salvation Army that Smith, 54, says he felt "a sense of purpose for the first time in years." He was doing what he says he loves best -- working as a carpenter and furniture refinisher. And he counseled other former inmates to try to keep them from repeating their mistakes.

    Data Center: FBI Crime Reports. Smith wishes he had followed his own advice. "I was tempted by the devil, and I failed," he says. Carpentry, counseling and church services at the Salvation Army weren't enough to break the "revolving-door" cycle that means, like Smith, up to 94 percent of former inmates will be rearrested and up to 81 percent will wind up behind bars again.

    The numbers are part of a 20-year study that shows recidivism is far worse than statistics usually indicate. It is the only study done over such a long period of time, tracking inmates who were first jailed at the correction center between 1987 and 1991, says psychologist Dr. Greg Little. Little and psychologist Dr. Kenneth Robinson, founders of Correctional Counseling Inc., were trying out a new treatment program in 1987 and began tracking inmates to compare their results with those of inmates who went through only standard counseling. They followed each inmate, recording every re-arrest and every re-incarceration.

    Tennessee Department of Correction studies show recidivism rates of about 51 percent over a three-year period, and national studies show recidivism averages of roughly 65 percent over three years. But Little and Robinson say the numbers keep going up over time, and the numbers are higher because most studies don't count re-incarcerations that took place in other states or in courts other than the original case. For instance, an inmate released on state probation or parole is seldom counted as a recidivist if later jailed for a federal crime.

    Jeff Smith had undergone the treatment designed by Little and Robinson. It is called Moral Reconation Therapy. The therapy requires inmates to study their own decision-making. In workbooks and group therapy, inmates are confronted with choices that grow more and more complex. Is it right to steal if you can't afford a prescription for a sick wife who might die without the medication? As they debate the choices, inmates have to think about how they make decisions. "MRT tries to improve your decision-making, meaning to do the right thing in the right way," says Robinson.

    Smith, who had begun using heroin when he was 17, had struggled with drug addiction most of his life. His MRT training made him realize his mistakes were "conscious decisions," he said last summer while working at the Salvation Army. Smith now looks down at a conference table at the Correction Center. He says he tried to avoid old friends after his release on probation two years ago. He had served 61/2 years of a 13-year sentence for forgery, theft of property, aggravated assault and a parole violation. But when an old friend told him he was dying of liver cancer, Smith says he agreed "to roll with him" one more time.

    Smith says he also is bipolar, needing medication to stay on an even keel. He quit using the medication and resorted with his friend to heroin and cocaine. It led to another theft charge to support the drug habit and now: "I have plenty of time to work on my Bible studies."

    Little and Robinson say the cost of housing an inmate like Smith is more than $24,000 a year, so cutting total costs by 25 percent would mean a huge savings.

    Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, a proponent of "swift and sure justice," says the high cost of imprisonment is making every law enforcement officer look for alternatives to building new jails. One of the most far-reaching plans by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) would start by looking at harsh drug laws enacted in the 1980s, including mandatory minimum sentences and nonviolent drug offenses filling prisons beyond capacity.

    Little says there are 14.3 million arrests leading to jail each year in the United States. "U.S. jails hold 850,000 people, so we've got to be shoving them out the door very fast. That's why people talk about a revolving door."

    The revolving door

    A 20-year study of recidivism by Correctional Counseling Inc., a Memphis-based behavioral therapy program, is the longest study of recidivism in the country, say psychologists Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson.

    It followed 1,381 inmates who first served time at the Shelby County Correction Center between 1987 and 1991. They were taking part in a new treatment program designed by the psychologists that since has gone from a local pilot program to one used in 47 states and eight countries.

    There were 1,052 inmates who used the new program (called MRT for moral reconation therapy) and 329 inmates in a comparison group who received only standard therapy. Results of the 20-year study include:

    About 94 percent of inmates receiving only standard counseling had been rearrested and 82 percent of them wound up back behind bars.

    Of those receiving MRT therapy, 81 percent had been rearrested and 61 percent again wound up behind bars. It was reduction of about 25 percent from the group that did not receive MRT therapy.

    Revolving doors and short sentences don't deter crime? I'm shocked, just shocked...:shocked:
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  2. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

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    And now many of that other 19 percent don't get caught....

    Randy
     

  3. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Death cures recidivism 100% of the time.
     
  4. A6Gator

    A6Gator

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    I just find it remarkable that people spend years and probably got a ton of taxpayer money to learn common sense stuff like this. I put this one in the same category as "Gravity causes falls..." or "Lack of sun causes darkness..."
     
  5. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

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    Drug addiction, and pornography addiction, (it works in the same areas of the brain, or nearly so), are two of the hardest to break from. Recidivism is going to be there. I genuinely hope that Smith makes it the next time around and becomes a productive member of society. Of course, pornography addiction is not illegal as is drug addiction, but it still contributes to family strife, and break up of marriages. That's not good either.
     
  6. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Depends on who you're married to.:whistling:
     
  7. HexHead

    HexHead

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    Memphis= Mogadishu on the Mississippi
     
  8. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

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    Well, there are those who hold to a stricter version of things as outlined in the Gospels. If you dwell on doing XYZ then you are guilty of XYZ, as if you acted out XYZ. In truth some parts of the New Testament is more strict than the Tana ch.
     
  9. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Over here, it's "Memf" or "The Memf". Nobody says "Memphisdishu".:whistling: