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October 18, 2007

Valuable recidivism assessment and analysis from down under

Thanks to a helpful colleague, I learned of this terrific new report on recidivism published by the Australian Institute of Criminology entitled "Recidivism in Australia: findings and future research."  This report is obviously a must-read for anyone interesting in international sentencing issues, but it also ought to be read closely by anyone seriously interested in evidence-based sentencing policy and reform.

The report is lengthy, but an executive summary makes it easy to take in the highlights.  Here is how that summary starts:

At a time when evidence based policy development has become increasingly important in the criminal justice policy arena, recidivism research provides promise for crime control strategies targeted at reducing reoffending. Identifying recidivists, understanding the correlates of high volume offending, and evaluating programs designed to reduce offending remain three key research and policy priorities in Australia.

Despite the importance of recidivism, there is a large divide between research and policy. What policy makers would like to measure often bears little resemblance to what researchers are able to measure, given the limitations on appropriate data and available information. As a result, research findings are often used out of context and with little regard for limitations imposed on them by the methodological constraints they face. This is driven primarily by a lack of clarity surrounding an appropriate definition of recidivism and clear articulation of research methodologies.

This report deals with important questions relating to recidivism research. It provides a conceptual framework through which recidivism can be defined and interpreted and arms both researchers and policy makers with a battery of tools useful in critical assessment of the research literature. It begins by looking at the general definition of recidivism and the problems inherent in its measurement and identification.

October 18, 2007 at 09:19 AM | Permalink

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