The Role of Neighborhood

Recidivism is perplexing. There are high rates of failure of inmates who leave prison. Every  judge who places individuals on probation hopes that there will be a success. Yet we know that some percentage of people will reoffend. What are the factors that increase the likelihood of recidivism?  There is a  new article  posted to SSRN and authored by Leah Jacobs and Jennifer Skeem that discusses the role neighborhood plays.  Here is its abstract:Justice-involved people vary substantially in their risk of re-offending.  To date, recidivism prediction and prevention efforts have largely focused on individual-level factors like antisocial traits.  Although a growing body of research has examined the role of residential contexts in predicting re-offending, results have been equivocal.  One reason for mixed results may be that an individual’s susceptibility to contextual influence depends upon his or her accumulated risk of re-offending.Based on a sample of 2,218 people on probation in San Francisco, California, this study draws on observational and secondary data to test the hypothesis that individual risk moderates the effect of neighborhood factors on recidivism. Results from survival analyses indicate that individual risk interacts with neighborhood concentrated disadvantage and disorder — these factors increase recidivism among people relatively low in individual risk, but not those at higher risk. This is consistent with the disadvantage saturation perspective, raising the possibility that some people classified as low risk might not recidivate but for placement in disadvantaged and disorderly neighborhoods.  Ultimately, residential contexts “matter” for lower risk people and may be useful to consider in efforts to prevent recidivism.

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