Recidivism in the Republic of Ireland: a national prospective cohort study
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
This thesis explores two-year incidence and trends of reconviction among a national cohort of prisoners released from prisons in the Republic of Ireland between 2007and 2009. Findings from international research studies that explore predictors and protectors of recidivism among ex-prisoners were used to inform the methodology for the current study. Anonymised data were obtained on all prisoners released from prisons in the Republic of Ireland during the years 2007-2009 through the Central Statistics Office in Ireland. A number of static and dynamic predictors and protectors of recidivism were examined across personal factors, family factors, medical/social history, criminal history, reason for committal and post-release engagement. Reconviction for a first new offence in a Court of Criminal Law within two years following release was the primary outcome of interest. The overall population released from prison during the study period consisted of13,156 offenders, comprising 11,975 (91.02%) males and 1,181 (8.98%) females. Violent crime accounted for 1,347 index offences, drug crime for 1,035 offences, sex crime for 255 offences and property crime accounted for over 2,878 of recorded index offences. A total of 5,041 (38.32%) ex-prisoners were re-convicted in a Court of Criminal Law within two years following release from prison. Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that younger age, index offence type (property crime),homelessness and race/ethnicity were independently associated with higher odds of first reconviction within two years (p<0.05). The study found no independent association between gender, educational level or employment/occupation and subsequent reconviction (p>0.05). Factors independently protective of re-conviction included increasing age and an index sex crime (p>0.05). The findings from this nationally representative cohort study are broadly in-keeping with international rates and predictors of recidivism. The current study provides robust empirical evidence relating to factors that are both protective and predictive of recidivism. At policy level, there is an increasing focus on designing rehabilitation programmes that are evidence based. These findings provide a sound basis for designing rehabilitation programmes focusing on target populations and key risk factors. Successful reintegration of ex-prisoners reduces the harmful effects of social exclusion and increases levels of trust and community participation, components of community-wide social capital that are central for keeping crime rates low and for the general welfare and safety of community.
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