As with much conventional wisdom on crime and punishment, popular notions of what actually causes recidivism--people cycling repeatedly in and out of prison--don't hold up when you look at the statistics. California's latest report analyzing its notoriously high (currently 65 percent) recidivism rate contains an array of numerical nuggets that shed new light on the cycle of crime. A sampling:
- Who's more likely to end up back in prison, a rapist or a thief? Turns out, those who commit less serious crimes are actually more likely to reoffend than those who commit more serious crimes. Those who commit vehicle theft, at 73.4 percent, register the highest recidivism rate. Meanwhile, people who commit more serious offenses like murder and kidnapping, while perceived as having intractable criminality, have the lowest recidivism rates.
- Women are less likely than men to recidivate--by about 11 percentage points. For those who do return to prison one or more times, however, the gender gap shrinks.
- Recidivism decreases drastically with age. While 75.7 percent of released felons in the 18-19-year-old range returned to prison within 3 years, 46.3 of those 60 years and older did so.
Find the full report here.