Dec 31, 1981
In 1978, RAND researchers conducted a survey of inmates in California, Michigan, and Texas prisons. One of the survey reports (RAND/R-2815-NIJ) suggested that crime might be reduced if scarce prison space were allocated to offenders most likely to commit crimes upon their release from prison, i.e., to "recidivate." Two critical assumptions underlying this suggestion are: (1) a substantial number of inmates recidivate, and (2) it is possible to identify which inmates will recidivate when they are sentenced, or before they are released, or both. This report examines the accuracy of both assumptions and the implications for policies regarding the length of sentences imposed. Its findings indicate that prison inmates usually commit crimes, often serious ones, after their release, but it is not possible to predict accurately which inmates will recidivate, how soon after release they will recidivate, or how often they commit post-release crimes.