Prisoners who are sanctioned more are more likely to re-offend

Many prisons today use sanctions to discipline prisoners, including segregating them from other inmates, transferring them away from other inmates, and removing them from rehabilitation programs. A new longitudinal study that sought to determine the effect of these sanctions on recidivism found that prisoners who had greater exposure to formal sanctions were more likely to re-offend 1, 2, and 3 years after release; formal sanctions involve punishment for misconduct after a rules infraction board finds an inmate guilty.

The study, by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, appears in Criminology & Public Policy, a publication of the American Society of Criminology.

"Contemporary sanctioning policies are generally intended to reduce inmates' social freedoms by, for example, removing them from the and isolating them in a cell," explains Ian Silver, a at the University of Cincinnati, who led the study. "We speculated that formal sanctions that reduced social freedoms also reduced access to prosocial opportunities during or after imprisonment, and that this can trap inmates in an antisocial lifestyle, which increases the likelihood that they will re-offend after being released from prison."

Using data collected by the Evaluation of Ohio's Prison Programs, one of the largest assessments of prison programs in the United States, the study looked at 63,772 inmates incarcerated between January 2008 and June 2012. The inmates were also studied after release.

The researchers found of sanctioning during imprisonment were associated with a higher probability of reincarceration following imprisonment. They discovered this association by classifying individuals into groups with different rates of formal sanctions over time and using that classification to predict recidivism following the inmates' release from .

"Our study has implications for practice and policy," notes Joseph L. Nedelec, assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati, who coauthored the research. "We recommend that the frequency and severity of sanctions be reduced when feasible to lower the number of inmates who may get further ensnared in an antisocial lifestyle.

"We also recommend that correctional departments redesign their sanctioning policies so when they discipline inmates, they give prisoners more, not less, access to prosocial opportunities, such as evidence-based rehabilitation programs, vocational programs, and visitation with positive influencers."


Explore further

Research reveals the key to reducing prison radicalisation

Provided by Crime and Justice Research Alliance
Citation: Prisoners who are sanctioned more are more likely to re-offend (2018, December 19) retrieved 24 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-prisoners-sanctioned-re-offend.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 19, 2018
The researchers completely failed to consider the other possible cause for the reoffending: those people who commit crime and do not feel guilt and continue to offend even when in prison are both more likely to be sanctioned and more likely to reoffend upon release as they never stopped or even tried to curtail their behaviour and so were also more likely to have been punished in prison.

But the researchers decided to ignore prisoner behaviour or the reason why they ended up being sanctioned and blamed the system instead. What of the parallel observation that those who have spent time in prison are more likely to offend than those who have not spent time in prison? Is this a sign that those people have an uncorrected predisposition to offend or does it tell us that the prison system is causing the problem??

mqr
Dec 20, 2018
who would think that punishment could create more aggression? that is what research had showed very clearly. But in societies that worship cruelty, punishment is part of the core belief system, part of the myth, that stands way beyond science. This is specially true when consider that the people of those cruel nations are very unhealthy, overweight, sedentary, full of pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol in their blood, bad readers, bad listeners, so it is very hard for them to change, very difficult to understand anything new, very hard for them to calm down.

A paper by a Brazilian psychologist pushing the use of psychedelics on prisons, put this issue in good perspective: "if we put someone in an isolated place, and punish them repeatedly, what are they going to do once they are released"

Plant cruelty, harvest horror.

Dec 20, 2018
Is this a sign that those people have an uncorrected predisposition to offend or does it tell us that the prison system is causing the problem??


It tells us the prison system is causing the problems. Other countries have vastly lower incarceration rates due to treating their prisoners as people, not slaves. If you punish every offense, you will end up with angrier and more dangerous prisoners. Try raising animals with solitary confinement as part of their punishment for not learning fast enough and see how many are safe to be around afterward. There is a reason why prisoners of war can't be tortured that way and allowing prisons to arbitrarily punish their wards this way, seems like a human rights violation.

Dec 20, 2018
Um, perhaps they're confusing cause and effect ?

Perhaps some people will, for whatever unhappy reasons, simply NOT PLAY NICE ??

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more