Recidivism and Neighborhood Effects: Examining Parolees in Georgia and Their Communities

Frances F. Burden, The Pennsylvania State University
R. Barry Ruback, The Pennsylvania State University

ABSTRACT
Sociologists and Criminal Justice experts have long tried to understand the "push" and "pull" factors individuals must confront in their decision whether or not to recidivate and commit criminal acts that may jeopardize their newly won freedom. The advent of GIS-based technologies has made it easier for researchers to address the possible factors that individuals are faced with on a neighborhood level. This study investigates the effect of neighborhood characteristics on a parolee's likelihood of recidivism, in the attempt to understand whether there are some "at risk" neighborhoods that increase a parolee's likelihood of rearrest. The key question is whether parolees who are released into more socially disorganized neighborhoods (e.g., high levels of residential mobility, large percentages of poverty, and a large number of criminal "hotspots" such as bars) are more likely to recidivate than parolees who are released into more socially organized neighborhoods. Using ARCGIS and HLM, this study begins to understand some of the contextual variables that increase recidivism.

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Updated 05/20/2006