Have You Been Charged With A Serious Crime?

Recidivism and the revolving door of criminal justice

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Criminal Law

People sometimes claim that the criminal justice system does not serve anyone’s needs effectively. There is some truth to that allegation. Whatever justice the courts can hand out after a crime is often a cold comfort to those negatively affected by criminal activity.

For those involved in a criminal incident, the punishments that the courts dole out rarely help them overcome what may have prompted the criminal issue in the first place. Those who work in the system often become jaded and burned out because of what they witness.

The sad reality is that those accused of one offense are likely to re-offend. Recidivism, or repeat criminal offenses by the same parties, is a major issue. Some people go so far as they claim that the courts and the prisons have revolving doors.

Why is recidivism so high?

In theory, New York’s laws that offer several alternatives for rehabilitation rather than simply punishment could help people address what causes criminal activity. Unfortunately, the effects of a criminal record and incarceration often trap people into a cycle of re-offending.

New York sees relatively high rates of individuals re-offending within a few years of their most recent arrest. Obviously, the biggest cities in the state skew those figures, but even the Syracuse area sees high rates of recidivism.

In Onondaga County, recidivism rates may not be as high as they are in the most populous parts of the state. Still, re-offending is a real cause for concern. According to data based on arrests in 2021, over 20% of those arrested that year were arrested again the following year. By the four-year mark, most years see a roughly 50% re-arrest rate, if not more than that.

What does this mean for defendants?

Those facing criminal charges may need to take an honest look at their situation, including what may have prompted their brush with the law. People often require help finding the underlying causes of criminal activity and ways to address or eliminate those issues.

Substance abuse treatment, counseling, changes in social networks and a host of other life adjustments can help people address the issues that led to a criminal infraction and their eventual arrest. Realizing that a single arrest can be an indicator of more issues to come might help people make the right moves when they face pending criminal charges in New York. Recognizing the risk of recidivism may inspire people to take control of their circumstances – to whatever degree they can – so that they don’t end up contributing to those unfortunate statistics.