Direct Effects of Programs on Recidivism
The findings from the previous chapter do not bode well for punishment policies, with the possible exception of their importance for the most chronic and serious offenders. If perceptions of certainty and severity of punishment influence intentions regarding reoffending, but have little or nothing to do with subsequent criminal behavior, then it is unlikely that programs emphasizing the fear factor will be effective. These programs may seem to hold the promise of reducing delinquency because they are believed to induce an immediate intent of avoiding crime; but the context within which actual decisions to commit crimes are made differ substantially from the context in which those intentions are shaped by programmatic experiences. The findings that one’s sense of citizenship and remorse are more important in understanding recidivism offer hope for advocates of probation and restitution. Before examining the effect of programs on perceptions, however, it is important to first establish the direct effects—if any exist—between the type of program and subsequent recidivism rates. Programs may impact recidivism for all sorts of reasons that are not covered in this study. Thus, this chapter focuses on the direct linkage between program type and recidivism.
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