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ERIC Number: ED346423
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Aug-22
Pages: 15
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Recidivism: What Is It?
Rienerth, Janice G.
There are several definitional problems inherent in the concept of "recidivism," some of which can be illustrated by comparing use of the term in the professional literature with students' definitions of the term. Thirty professional sources were reviewed to study the definitions of recidivism. Some sources provided more than one definition. When divided by segments of the criminal justice system, 19 definitions could occur before the crime has been discovered or reported; 7 occur at the Police section; 13 at the Court section; 13 at the Corrections section; and 4 occur after the offender has left the institution. College students (N=147) from criminology and corrections classes were asked for their definitions of recidivism. Approximately 20% of the students did not know what the term meant. About 23% gave mainly incorrect definitions. Nine students gave definitions that could be mapped at the Police section of the system; 7 gave definitions at the Court section; and 67 students gave definitions at the Corrections section. These findings suggest that both professional and student sources have unclear, inconsistent definitions of recidivism. The majority of the professional definitions occurred before the Corrections section, while the majority of the student definitions occurred during the Corrections section. It may be concluded that the term "recidivism" should be clearly defined whenever it is used and should only be used to describe some type of convicted reinvolvement in crime. (NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (Cincinnati, OH, August 22, 1991).