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Recidivism Outcomes Under a Shifting Continuum of Control

Published onJul 21, 2022
Recidivism Outcomes Under a Shifting Continuum of Control
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Recidivism Outcomes Under a Shifting Continuum of Control
Description

Abstract Criminal justice systems across the United States are reducing reliance on prison incarceration and moving toward more local and noncustodial types of responses to felony offenders. Rather than wholesale decarceration, states and counties are shifting felons along what we call a “continuum of control,” which allows for people who previously might have been incarcerated in state prison to be sentenced to jail, jail plus probation, or probation without a custodial spell. With some notable exceptions, existing research has focused primarily on contrasting prison versus community placements and ignored the intermediary alternatives between the poles of the continuum. In this study, we compare the recidivism outcomes of felons sentenced to prison versus those sentenced to jail, jail plus probation, and probation alone. On balance, our findings show that jail incarceration results in the same or lower rearrest and reconviction rates than incarceration in prison. We also find consistent evidence that while rearrests are frequently higher for probation with or without a jail spell, reconvictions are consistently lower for similarly situated offenders than prison. These findings provide partial evidence in support of policies that move people convicted of felonies to less costly, more local, and less confining alternatives than prison.

 

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