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Background

Describe about The Recidivism of Homicide Offenders for Prisoners Law.

  • Recidivism

Recidivism refers to the behavior of an individual repeating an act of behaviors that are undesirable, even after experiencing the negative consequences of engaging in the behavior.

  • Recidivism in Australian

Recidivism is rampant in Australia with 42% of prisoners released during the 2011-2012 returning under sentence within 2 years. In Australia, about two in every three prisoners will have been imprisoned in the past. About one in four of Australian prisoners will be reconvicted within three months of being released from the prison. The rates of recidivism in Australian regardless of how they are measured seem reasonably consistent over time. Approximately fifty percent of Australian adults police arrestees will have been arrested at least one in the last twelve months and about one in five will have spent time in prison in the last twelve months. Between fifty and sixty percent of the Australian adults police arrestees will be rearrested at least once within ten years even though the likelihood of arrest is highest within the first 2 years. Approximately two out of three Australian adult offenders appearing before the courts of laws will have been convicted in the past and one in five sentenced to prison in the past. About 15% of the Australian adults offenders released from community corrections will go back to the community within 2 years. Reoffending in Australia climaxes in the mid to late teenage years and the likelihood of being a recidivist is highest between the ages of 21 and 17 years of age, and declines into adulthood.

  • Rate and Comparison

The Australian rate of recidivism is as high as 42% in comparison to the United States which has about 76.6% of those released getting back to prison within five years. In the United States, about two-thirds (67.8%) of people released get back to prison within three years in comparison to between 35% and 41% of the prisoners in Australia being  reimprisoned within 2 years of being released.  Victoria’s rate of return prison (39.5%) which is lower than that of Australia average. On other hand , the Northern territory has the highest rate of recidivism to prison at 51.7% while the New South Wales have proportion recidivism rate of 45.8% which is higher than Australian. The rate of Queensland has the recidivism rate of 39.5% and the Tasmania has recidivism of 39.0%. These percentages can be illustrated by the fugue one below.

Critiques of Current System

The percentage of prisoners freed during 2011-2012 getting back to prison within two years of release (recidivism to prison)

Most prisons in Australia are holding prisoners who at one time committed the same offense that they are incarcerated for. One of the major reasons for the increase in recidivism is based on the fact that the Australian correction system does not have policies aimed at deterring people from committing a crime, but it reinforces the behavior of the offender.  This is because the Australian correctional system does not emphasize on addressing the problems that lead to incarceration, and it places burden on the police department and the judicial system to remove offenders from the streets, as opposed to helping these offenders to become law abiding citizens (Mears, Cochran and Cullen 2015). It is because of these facts that recidivism is a problem in the criminal justice system of Australia.           

Furthermore, a number of social and economic factors play a role in increasing the rates of recidivism in Australia. Examples include poverty, inadequate housing facilities and inability to meet some of the basic needs of an individual. Additionally, the policies of the criminal justice system in Australia have not been efficient in reducing recidivism, because some of the policies make it difficult for the offender to get a job, once he has been released from prison (Mitchell et al 2012). Examples of such policies include suspending their driving licenses and maintaining a prior record of crime that makes it difficult for these offenders to be successfully integrated back into the community. Hence, these offenders will definitely resort back to crime.

The number of prisoners in Australia who have been arrested and incarcerated for re-offending is very high. For instance, statistics indicates that 50% of prisoners, who are currently in Australian jails, have been imprisoned before (Dwyer 2016). Therefore, they are repeat prisoners. This figure is very high, when compared to the rates of recidivism in the United States. The comparison is made to the United States because; the US has some of the highest crime rates in the world. However, the rates of re-offending in the United States stands at 24.4%; this is in comparison to 50% in Australia (Dwyer 2016).    

In Australia, the people who are vulnerable to recidivism are young people, who are between 10 to 13 years old. Their rate of recidivism stands at 70%. This is a very high rate, and it signifies the failure of the government policies to efficiently address the problems that these children are facing (Giles 2016). These problems are social and economic problems. For instance, some of the children who are found to be committing crime are always involved in taking drugs (Lockwood, Nally, and Ho 2016). This is a social problem that is facing Australia; hence, the best method of solving the problem is to ensure that it is difficult for young people to access the drugs, and they pass through a rehabilitation program that does not focus on punishing these children, but helping them to overcome their drug addictions (Skeem et al 2014). The problems that are affecting young offenders are the same problems that affect adult offenders, resulting to the overcrowding of Australian prisons. 

Measures to Reduce Recidivism

Therefore, it is important to assert that the best strategies that can help to reduce the problem of recidivism, should center on fighting poverty and ensuring that people do not easily access drugs that are harmful to their health (Di Tella and Schargrodsky, 2013). However, these policies may not efficient if other stakeholders in the criminal justice system do not cooperate with the government. This is because reduction of poverty and regulating the social system in Australia is a function of the federal and provincial governments. On the other hand, the criminal justice system can come up with its own policies aimed at reducing the problem of recidivism in Australia

There are a number of policies and factors that can help to reduce the problem of re-offending. These includes training prisoners on skills that they can use to sustain themselves, once they come out of prison, or even, if they are allowed to study while in prison (Durose, Cooper and Snyder 2014). However, these are some of the oldest methods used to rehabilitate prisoners; hence scholars suggest new methods that can complement the mentioned methods. One of the methods that has been identified, and can be efficient in solving the problem of re-offending is the use of peer mentors. For instance, the use of peer mentoring has achieved great success in countries such as Sweden and the Republic of Ireland in reducing the problem of recidivism.

Under this concept of peer mentoring, there is a need of identifying ex-prisoners who are fully rehabilitated, so that they may help their peers who are in prison. They are to provide advice to their peers, on the best methods they can use to be fully integrated back into the society (Rice and Harris 2013). It is important to explain that only the person who has once served a prison sentence can understand what these other people are facing; hence, they are better suited to give a reliable advice that can help in reducing the chances of recidivism in Australia (White, Nemelka and Floyd 2015). It is important to explain that prisoners are likely to respond to the advice of their peers, as opposed to the advice of wardens and law enforcement officers.

Therefore, the use of peer mentoring might be one of the most efficient methods to use in reducing the high rates of recidivism in Australia. Reformed prisoners will have a chance to contribute to the society, because of their initiatives of helping convicts to overcome crime once released. In fact, it is the use of peer mentoring that United States, one of the countries that has a high crime rate, is able to reduce the rates of re-offenders in the country.

Conclusion

The peer mentoring system will involve the use of ex-convicts who are trained as positive role model to the young men and women who are incarcerated. Under this program, a mentor will be assigned to specific prisons and inmates for purposes of talking to them, telling them his life story, and explaining to them the importance of obeying the law, and living a positive life in the society. While providing the mentorship services, the mentor must be working under the supervision of a senior law enforcement officer, who should offer guidance and monitor the conduct of the prisoners who are being mentored (Gallagher et al 2015). Furthermore, it is important to assert that the mentorship program should cover training on self-belief, skills, motivation and focus. It is important to explain that having a positive role model is one of the best and most powerful methods of preventing re-offending.

This is because a mentor is an example of success, and prisoners will identify with him, because he has also passed through the same system and he understands their fears and their vulnerabilities. However, ion as much as mentors will play an important role in determining the success of the full rehabilitation of prisoners, there are certain criteria that a mentor must meet, before he is given a chance to engage in the mentorship program. The first criteria, is that the mentor must be free from using illicit drugs (Durose and Markman 2015). Furthermore, the mentor must not be a drug addict, as drug addiction is a problem, and it is not an example of positive living. Additional, the mentor must be having a stable life, and a [positive attitude towards other people. He must also have stopped engaging in crime. It is only a mentor who has the above qualifications can manage to earn the respect of the offenders. Therefore, without the respect of these offenders, chances of a mentor achieving success during the mentorship program are low.   

In a study carried out by Listwan et al (2013) in the United States, results indicate that counseling has the greatest impact in reducing cases of recidivism. For instance, in the United States, counseling sessions have the impact of reducing re-offending by 13%. This is closely followed by skill building programs, which reduced instance of recidivism by 12% and multiple coordinated services that had an impact in reducing cases of recidivism by 12%. Furthermore, it is important to assert that the mentorship sessions which were the most efficient and had positive results were group based mentorship programs (Mohammed and Mohamed 2015). From these results, it is possible to denote that the best method that the Australian department of correctional services can reduce the negative impacts of recidivism is through the use of group based mentorship programs.

The correctional officers and policy formulators can learn from this study that discipline interventions did not have an impact of reducing the occurrence of recidivism. In fact, Listwan et al (2013) explains that in areas where a punitive approach was used for purposes of correcting offenders, there was an increase of instances of recidivism by 8%. Furthermore, deterrence interventions had an impact of reducing instances of recidivism by 2%. Therefore, these results provide a proof that it is easier to reduce instances of recidivism through the use of mentorship programs. This is as opposed to the use of punitive and deterrence interventions. The Australian government can learn from these studies, and carry out their own independent research and case study analysis on countries that have adopted the mentorship programs as their official policy of rehabilitating offenders, so that the government can judge whether the policy is efficient, and can be applied in Australia.

The police operation have been evaluated in Australian in 2004 by the AIC study that examined the effectiveness of Australian Federal Police operation in the Australian Capital Territory. The outcome of this research showed that by targeting recidivist property offenders, police could potentially have a real impact in the reduction of property crime rates mainly via the incapacitation effects of incarceration.  

Another example relates to the evaluation of drug court undertaken in western Australian in 2003 by UWA CRC. The result showed that the drug court program did not have a significant impact in reducing the reoffending even though latest studies have illustrated that they have a positive effect.

Conclusion

Recidivism is a problem in Australia, and this is because 50% of incarcerated people are repeat offenders. Furthermore, young adults are the people who are most vulnerable to re-offending. There are a number of reasons that emerge, which explain the reasons for an increase of recidivism in Australia (Broadhurst et al 2016). Some of these reasons include poverty and poor social conditions. However, these are not the main reasons for an increased rate of re-offending in Australia. Furthermore, reduction of poverty and improving the social conditions of offenders and people in Australia is not within the scope of correctional service officers. This is the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments (Schmidt and Witte 2012). However, correctional officers can learn from countries such as Sweden and the United States, and develop a mentorship program, where ex-convicts will come and mentor the existing convicts.

These mentorship programs are a success in these countries, and an example is the United States, where the prison mentorship programs have led to a reduction of 13% of circumstances of recidivism in the country (Davis et al 2014). However, while coming up with a prison mentorship program, caution should be taken, to ensure that only reformed prisoners are allowed to offer mentorship services. This is because they will become positive role models to their peers. On the other hand, punitive and deterrence policies do not achieve the desired results of reducing the rates of crime. In fact, these policies lead to an increase in the rates of crime. This is because convicts will still seek to engage in crime after they have left the prison. They do not have any motivating factor that will prevent them from committing crime.

For purposes of reducing the rates of recidivism in Australia, the department of correctional service should introduce mentorship programs. The department should look for reformed prisoners, who have not committed a crime, for a period of five years. The department should train these people on counseling services; hence, imparting counseling skills to them. These people should use the imparted skills, for purposes of counseling their peers in the prisons. Furthermore, to achieve efficiency through this method, the department should carry out a case study, and analyze the manner which countries such as United States and Sweden have managed to reduce the rates of re-offending, through the use of peer counselors. The government should learn from these countries and implement the policy on a wider scale in Australia. The policy should be a governmental policy, with legislations in place that will provide guidance on the manner which correctional officers should implement the policy.

References

Broadhurst, R., Maller, R., Maller, M. and Bouhours, B., 2016. The Recidivism of Homicide Offenders in Western Australia. Available at SSRN 2712091.

Davis, L.M., Steele, J.L., Bozick, R., Williams, M., Turner, S., Miles, J.N., Saunders, J. and Steinberg, P.S., 2014. Correctional Education in the United States.

Di Tella, R. and Schargrodsky, E., 2013. Criminal recidivism after prison and electronic monitoring. Journal of Political Economy, 121(1), pp.28-73.

Durose, M. and Markman, J., 2015. Using a Multistate Perspective To Examine Recidivism Outcomes.

Durose, M.R., Cooper, A.D. and Snyder, H.N., 2014. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 28.

Dwyer, V. 2016. Could Prison Mentors Reduce Australia's Sky High Recidivism Rates? | VICE | Australia. [online] VICE. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_au/read/could-prison-mentors-reduce-australias-sky-high-recidivism-rates [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016].

Gallagher, J.R., Nordberg, A., Deranek, M.S., Ivory, E., Carlton, J. and Miller, J.W., 2015. Predicting termination from drug court and comparing recidivism patterns: Treating substance use disorders in criminal justice settings. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 33(1), pp.28-43.

Giles, M., 2016. Study in prison reduces recidivism and welfare dependence: A case study from Western Australia 2005-2010. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, (514), p.1.

Listwan, S.J., Sullivan, C.J., Agnew, R., Cullen, F.T. and Colvin, M., 2013. The pains of imprisonment revisited: The impact of strain on inmate recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 30(1), pp.144-168.

Lockwood, S.K., Nally, J.M. and Ho, T., 2016. Race, Education, Employment, and Recidivism among Offenders in the United States: An Exploration of Complex Issues in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 11(1).

Mears, D.P., Cochran, J.C. and Cullen, F.T., 2015. We are still largely in the dark as to whether incarceration reduces recidivism. USApp–American Politics and Policy Blog.

Miller, M., Drake, E. and Nafziger, M., 2013. What works to reduce recidivism by domestic violence offenders?. Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Mitchell, O., Wilson, D.B., Eggers, A. and MacKenzie, D.L., 2012. Assessing the effectiveness of drug courts on recidivism: A meta-analytic review of traditional and non-traditional drug courts. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(1), pp.60-71.

Mohammed, H. and Mohamed, W.A.W., 2015. Reducing Recidivism Rates through Vocational Education and Training. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 204, pp.272-276.

Rice, M.E. and Harris, G.T., 2013. Psychopathy and violent recidivism. Handbook on psychopathy and law, pp.231-249.

Schmidt, P. and Witte, A., 2012. Predicting recidivism using survival models. Springer Science & Business Media.

Skeem, J.L., Winter, E., Kennealy, P.J., Louden, J.E. and Tatar II, J.R., 2014. Offenders with mental illness have criminogenic needs, too: Toward recidivism reduction. Law and human behavior, 38(3), p.212.

White, G., Nemelka, I. and Floyd, J., 2015. Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Affect on Recidivism.    

https://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/rpp/80/rpp080.pdf

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