What is the Influence of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status on Rates of Reoffending among Ex-Prisoners?

What is the Influence of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status on Rates of Reoffending among Ex-Prisoners?


Previous researches have indicated that there are many factors that influence an ex-convict decision to reoffend. Factors such as individual characteristics, state policies and family relationships have been found to play a significant role in influencing an ex-convict’s decision to recidivate. This research study looks at the influence that neighborhood socioeconomic status has on the decision of an x-convict to reoffend.The findings of the research study would be invaluable to the government through the relevant policy making agencies as they will direct their focus towards the importance of a neighborhoods’ socioeconomic composition in reducing recidivism rates as well as curbing and predicting criminal activities. Data on this study would be obtained from community supervision records of thedepartments of corrections, from the United States census, and from the department of community justice and the repository for all community supervision data. The independent variables that will be under examination will be offender and offense characteristics, neighborhood social and economic characteristicsand re-arrest data. The study will parallel these variables against the socioeconomic status of the neighborhoods within which the offender resides. Multilevel techniques of modelling will be used to regress the effects of individual and neighborhood level factors against data on recidivism rates.








Over the past 30 years, the United States government has predominantly employed the use of incarceration to promote adherence to the law. In 1974, close to 1,819,000 adults had spent time in either state or federal prisons; however, in 2001 this population had tripled to 5,618,000 men and women. In the year 2004 alone, two million individuals were housed in prisons (Harrison & Karberg, 2003). Given these patterns, more convicts are increasingly being released from incarceration than ever before. In any given year, 600,000 individuals are released into their communities (Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). At the time of return, many ex-convicts face greater challenges and obstacles in transitioning from prison life to society. As a result, prisoner community reentry has become one of the most salient problems in the criminal justice system. The main question being, how many of these ex-convicts will reoffend and why.


Every year millions of tax payer’s money is channeled towards catering for the large population of inmates throughout the United States. Yet, respective government agencies overlook the probable factors that lead people to recidivate time and again. Legislations and policies have been laid down which keep these struggling population within the walls of the penitentiary. When convicts are released, they, in most cases don’t have anywhere to go to, except their old neighborhoods. If these neighborhoods are socioeconomically disadvantaged, the probability of recidivating increases. It therefore, becomes futile to spend resources on keeping convicts housed if they will commit the same crime at the slightest of opportunity since the post-release conditions are limited.

Ex-convicts are often associated with an image of distrust and unworthy. Most convicts have a below average chance of finding gainful employment, and can therefore, not be in a position to afford basic necessities such as driver’s license. With few opportunities, the chances of making bad decisions rise. Previous researches on recidivism have found that offenders with drug problems, with little education or coming from minority populations are more likely to reoffend. However, none of these previous studies has addressed the role that the type of neighborhood prisoners is released plays in the likelihood of the prisoner to reoffend. This research study proposes that various social and economic factors such as poverty and inequality to a large extent influence the decision of an ex-convict to reoffend.


Increasingly, more people are convicted and jailed for relatively longer jail terms. Few of them, however, receive a form of rehabilitation needed for them to be self-supportive on the outside. As a result, recidivism levels remain high and many are concerned with what is considered the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Views with regards to the appropriate policy response to prisoner reentry vary; however, the most overlooked are campaigns that emphasize on changing the community.



Harrison, P. M., & Karberg, J. C. (2003). Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2003. Washington , DC: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Travis, J., Solomon, A. L., & Waul, M. (2001). From Prison to Home: The Dimensions and Consequences of Prisoner Reentry. Washington, DC: report from the Justice Policy Center,Urban Institute,.


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