Repeat and One-Time Offense Difference

Outline

This paper has delved into varied aspects in countering the hypothesis that there is no difference in the criminal activity of repeat offenders aone-timeime offenders. The objective has been to present authentic and plausible reasoning duly supported with the available literature and theory in highlighting the hypothesis that one-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal activities. The entire circumstances that lead to high rates of imprisonment and the resultant pattern of repeat offenders in the UK have been examined to portray the prevailing situation in the context of high crime rate and recidivism. Further, the paper has thrown light on the present research in crime patterns amongst youth and the reason for the prevailing behavioral patterns.

Abstract

This paper has delved into varied aspects in countering the hypothesis that there is no difference in the criminal activity of repeat offenders and one-time offenders. The objective has been to present authentic and plausible reasoning duly supported with the available literature and theory in highlighting the hypothesis that one-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal activities. The entire circumstances that lead to high rates of imprisonment and the resultant pattern of repeat offenders in the UK have been examined to portray the prevailing situation in the context of high crime rate and recidivism. Further, the paper has thrown light on the present research in crime patterns amongst youth and the reason for the prevailing behavioral patterns.

Introduction

The main reason why society imposes fines, prison sentences, and other deterrent outcomes is mainly for punishment. Reprisal is considered a strong justification in the criminal justice system and victims of crime strongly favor that perpetrators must be severely punished for their acts. Reprisal is thought to be the main reason why society has believed in criminal punishments for ages. By imposing harsh punishment for criminal acts others will think twice before they get into the act of committing similar crimes. Such arguments for deterrence are used in speaking in favor of the death penalty. Research has proved that criminals are often deterred more by the chances of getting caught even though the punishment for the crime may be moderate than by strong sentences. The argument in favor of deterrence is applicable in the case of offenders that will be less likely to commit criminal acts after having served prison sentences. The argument that cites incapacitation to deter crimes is more valid in the case of habitual offenders than one-time offenders. Criminals that are incapacitated by being put into prisons are thus unable to commit crimes and hence society is saved from likely acts of crime (Kleinig, 2006).

A valid argument for one-time offenders is the practice of denunciation whereby society believes that by disapproving criminal acts through denunciation, such activities will be curbed. Conventionally, denunciation in society occurred by way of public humiliation which can prove to be overwhelming for law-abiding citizens. While making decisions about sentencing policies lawmakers consider that cruel and unusual punishments should be avoided. But forms of punishment for criminal acts continue to change although the concept of true rehabilitation still appears to be a distant dream.

National and international research has revealed that many prisoners re-offend primarily because they do not have adequate support systems. In being imprisoned, many have their relationships broken and lose their housing and income. Most of them are not well educated and do not have the skills to be engaged in gainful employment. It is because of such situations that a lot of ex-offenders go back to a cycle of crime and develop the pattern of being unable to cope with the burden imposed by society. First-time offenders that do not return to committing crimes are positively impacted by factors such as education, employment, positive attitude and self-self-control positive impact of family networks, and financial support. The government needs to consider the problem that the prevailing policies, rules,s, and practices adopted by the criminal justice system warrant immediate action to reduce the high rates of repeat crimes committed by individuals.

Hypothesis

My hypothesis is as given below:

This study is designed to support the following case:

One-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal activity.

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the patterns of criminal behavior and work on the hypothesis that one time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal

Research Problem

There is a need to consider the problem about the prevailing policies, rules, and practices adopted by the criminal justice system which warrants immediate action to reduce the high rates of repeat crimes committed by individuals.

Quantitative Question

It is known that a large number of ex-offenders return to criminal behavior which is evident from the fact that in the UK almost half the prisoners that are released from prisons eventually return within two years. Research has also confirmed that a small percentage of the criminals are responsible for the commitment of a larger percentage of the crimes. As per criminology reports, 70 percent of the crimes in the UK are committed by 15 percent of the criminals. It is therefore justified to assume that if these 15 percent can be held in prison, the number of crimes in the country will decline. The high incidence of crimes committed by repeat offenders is evident from the following data:

Table I. Conviction rates for repeat offenders.

1999 97%
2000 98%
2001 99%
2002 98%

Table II. Repeat Offender Case Summary. Source: Office for National Statistics, (2010). Prisoners in 2008, Web.

Repeat Offender Case Summary
Year Repeat
Offenders
Identified
Avg. No. of
Prior Criminal
Convictions
Average
Sentence
Conviction
Rate
1999 134 10.3 8.1 years 97%
2000 160 9.9 7.8 years 98%
2001 315 10.6 8.2 years 99%
2002 213 10.1 7.6 years 98%

The above table is indicative of the criminal acts of repeat offenders and the average number of criminal convictions. There is thus a case to analyze why such behavior occurs and what policy measures can be adopted in reversing the negative trend. In effect, the increased tendency of identifying, prosecuting, and imprisoning these repeat offenders that opt to commit crimes one after another, has led to positive steps in making the community a safer place to live in.

It is now well recognized that repeat offenders commit the majority of the violent and serious crimes in the UK. However c, community efforts have succeeded in dissuading first-time offenders from indulging in further criminal activities havech has enabled a number of them to return to the normal course of civil life. Additionally, teams have been set up in several areas which identify offenders that have served prison sentences and have been released back into the community. Prisoners released from jail are often put under scrutiny by the local probation offices and local law enforcement. They are contacted and counseled of the severe consequences of further criminal acts being committed by them and also provided with community resources in assisting them to return to community life.

Literature Review

The profiling of offenders is considered a deviation of inference about criminals from the aspect of the crimes committed by individuals. The present research has indicated that major differences pertain to those that differentiate amongst different classes of crimes and offenders and offenses. In this regard, the Radex Model uses a Multi-Dimensional Scaling process in allowing specifhypothesessis to be developed regarding criminal differentiation.

  • The Salience MDS analysis reveals the significance of the frequency of criminal acts as being the basis for establishing such actions.
  • Models of Differentiation pertain to the research that is supportive of differences amongst criminals by way of the manner in which they transact with their direct or indirect victims.
  • Consistency pertains to the patterns of actions exhibited by criminals in the context of different occasions whereby spatial behavior is exhibited.

David Canter has elaborated on the importance of the Radex Model regarding differentiation amongst criminals and criminal activities,

“The examination of the salience of offense actions indicates that the consideration of any action in isolation from the others that may co-occur with it can be misleading. Any single action may be so common across offenses or so ambiguous in its significance that its use as a basis for investigative inferences may suggest distinctions between offenders that are unimportant. Differentiation, therefore, needs to have foundations in an understanding of the processes that give rise to co-occurring patterns of criminal activity. Within the Radex model, the forms of salience derive their specific meanings from the psychological themes which they reveal. Several researchers have followed the implications of this by testing the hypothesis that these themes reflect the mode of interpersonal transaction that the offender uses to carry out the crime” (Canter, 2000).

According to Ressler (1996), the mass media is fascinated with violent and sexually related crimes and with criminals which have led to the belief that inferences need to be made characteristics of criminals. To ascertain why some offenders continue to participate in criminal activities after their release from prison while others do not, inferences are drawn that relate directly to several problems. Important behavioural aspects of crimes need to be selected to ed identify perpetrators. A distinction has to be made amongst offenders in ascertaining the best ways that indicate variance between offenders and crimes. Inferences can be drawn about the traits of the offender which can assist in his or her identification (Farrington, 1998).

The major objective of creating profiling systems based on scientific developments is to ascertain the psychologically significant differences amongst crimes that relate to variations amongst people who commit them. It is important to consider that there is immense potential of vast differences being found and more generally there are issues relating to the variances amongst those that take part in crimes and those that do not. Such considerations have for long been considered by psychologists and at a more precise level, there is the question regarding specific subsets of actions that are taken by criminals. According to Lobato (2000), amongst the general issues, several variations can arise which include the issue of varied subsets of crimes, such as the comparison amongst burglars and violent offenders (Farrington and Lambert, 1994). In considering the issue a step further, some questions need to be addressed on more specific levels about the pattern of criminal behavior such as comparing offenders that plan discreetly before committing a crime and those that act impulsively and with the availability of opportunities. Research has proved that people that commit crimes impulsively stand chances of improvement through post-release counseling and training and hence stand lesser chances of becoming repeat offenders.

The high incidence of repeat offenses by youth in the UK is primarily accounted for in terms of inhuman exploitation, mostly of youth who are considered repeat offenders. The criticism in this regard comes from several human rights organizations as also as social and political ones. First-time offenders are made to undergo unwarranted hardships through imprisonment which makes them mix with repeat offenders and thus they have the inclination to be carried away by the criminal patterns of other prisoners. It is thus true that one-time offenders are exposed to a criminal environment and thus participate in criminal activities after being released for the first offense. But they run higher risks of becoming repeat offenders in replicating the first time behavior due to the strong influence of criminal motivation and behavior during the first incarceration (Palaez, 2005).

The functionalist theory explains that criminal acts result from la ack of moral control in society which in turn is the result of structural disturbances in society. According to Durkheim, there is a feeling of anxiety and disorientation due to the breaking up of the traditional life in modern societies (Giddens, Duneier, & Appelbaum, 2005). The behavior of repeat offenders is explained in the context of the stress experienced by individuals when there is a conflict between social norms and social realities. This is aptly demonstrated by the existence of gangs in societies that reject laws, values, and rules and instead adopt norms that indicate defiance (Giddens, Duneier, & Appelbaum, 2005). The functionalist theory argues in terms of three parameters. The first relates to the strain theory whereby individuals do not achieve their objectives by legitimate means and do so in using unusual practices. The control theory argues that environmental circumstances such as lack of educational opportunity and poverty push individuals to either involve in criminal acts or to shift away from them. This is the core argument given in the context of why some first-time criminals repeat illegal acts and some refrain from them after the first occurrence (Greek, 2005).

Research

Under the law, a person is considered a repeat offender if he or she had been convicted in the past for three or moffensesnces or more than one felony during five years preceding the present sentence. However, if the previous conviction had been amended, vacated, or reversed this aspect will not be applicable. The present statistics about the pattern of repeat offenders in the UK are depicted in the following tables.

Table III. Percentage of repeat offenders, by sex, the type of career, and the age at the time of the first referred incident. Source: Office for National Statistics, (2010). Prisoners in 2008, Web.

Age at the first incident Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
percentage
12 5.4 7.0 6.1
13 9.4 10.3 9.8
14 16.5 16.8 16.6
15 21.2 20.6 20.9
16 24.4 23.0 23.9
17 23.0 22.4 22.8
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

The data is indicative of the rising trend of repeat offenders as the age of criminals increases. When the age of the offender for the first offense is 12 years, only 6.1% prove to be repeat offenders while at the age of 17 years the first offense leads to repeated involvement in crimes amongst 22.8% of the offenders.

Table IV. Number of male repeat offenders, by type of career.

Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
Number 15,471 10,447 25,918

Table V. Percentage of female repeat offenders, by type of career, and the age at the time of the first referred incident. Source: Office for National Statistics, (2010). Prisoners in 2008, Web.

Age at the first incident Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
percentage
12 4.8 6.9 5.2
13 13.5 13.6 13.5
14 19.8 19.7 19.8
15 23.6 20.4 22.9
16 21.4 20.1 21.1
17 17.0 19.4 17.5
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

Amongst female offenders, it is observed from the above table that when the age of the offender for the first offense is 12 years, only 5.2% prove to be repeat offenders while at the age of 17 years the first offense leads to repeated involvement in crimes amongst 17.5% of the female offenders.

Table VI. Number of female repeat offenders, by type of career.

Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
Number 6,093 1,585 7,678

Table VII. Total number of all repeat offenders, by type of career, and the age at the time of the first referred incident. Source: Office for National Statistics, (2010). Prisoners in 2008, Web.

Age at the first incident Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
percentage
12 5.3 6.9 5.9
13 10.6 10.7 10.6
14 17.5 17.2 17.4
15 21.8 20.6 21.4
16 23.6 22.6 23.2
17 21.3 22.0 21.6
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

The above data is indicative of the rising trend of repeat offenders of both males and females, as the age of criminals increases. When the age of the offender for the first offense is 12 years, only 5.9% prove to be repeat offenders while at the age of 17 years the first offense leads to repeated involvement in crimes amongst 21.6% of the offenders.

Table VIII. Total number of all repeat offenders, by type of career, and the age at the time of the first referred incident.

Adolescent-limited Persistent Total
Number 21,564 12,032 33,596

Most of the repeat offenders in the UK are youth that is sentenced by juvenile courts or the adult criminal justice system. The UK is known to imprison a much higher percentage of its youth as compared to other countries. This practice is indicative of the larger trends of imprisonment policies in the country and has become a source of major debate for a large number of reasons which include violence and congestion in youth prisons, prosecuting youth as adults, and the long-lasting impact of imprisonment on the person’s future success during adulthood. A large number of repeat offenders are created due to such an environment.

Repeat offenders may not be dealt with properly because of meager emphasis being placed on rehabilitation policies. Researchers have found that shorter sentences result in a reduction of the criminal propensity which further reduces the rate of arrests and the number of first-time convicts (Pelaez, 2005). The UK has been criticized for indirectly encouraging the youth to become repeat offenders in imprisoning youth for nonviolent offenses and for those that do not have any victims. Almost half of the people incarcerated under jurisdictions of states are for offenses that are not violent.

Design

The design of this paper is based on empirical research carried out by researchers in examining data collected by the Office for National Statistics. The data collected based on factual information from different states were examined in arriving at conclusions about offenders and criminal activities. The paper has been designed in keeping to counter the belief that there is no difference in the criminal activities of repeat offenders and one-time offenders. Instead, the paper has been designed in highlighting the hypothesis that one-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal.

Sampling

The conclusions of this paper are based on sampling data collected by the Office for National Statistics. The data pertained to 8 of the most populated regions in the UK and included people that had a prior record of convictions. Office for National Statistics also reported about 38% convictions and 15% previous convictions for aggressive felonies. It was also found by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that almost 30% of homicides were committed by youth that was below the age of 21. Individuals convicted of murder, robbery, and felony attacks were more likely to have had previous criminal records as compared to rapists who were less prone to have a previous history of crime. Office for National Statistics based its data on a sample size of 9000 convictions that represented 33000 cases. The cases were chosen through seven varied studies that were researched from 1992 to 2004.

The main instruments used for the research were a large number of theoretical sources which enabled the writing of the literature review. Sampling data was collected from the Office for National Statistics in arriving at conclusions based on accurate data obtained from its website.

The research could not have been carried out without the use of severable variables in terms of different age groups, males, females, crimes of different nature, and the several different counties and states which were included in the data analysis as acquired from different sources. The research was carried out in considering varying theories founded during different periods. Variables pertained to the consideration of different crimes and their impact on the repeat patterns of criminal behavior amongst youth.

Most of the data were collected from the website of the Office for National Statistics which was used in formulating the conclusions given in this paper.

The data collected pertained primarily to information obtained from the Office for National Statistics and the same was utilized in analyzing the crime patterns in terms of repeat offenders. The analysis was made in the context of ascertaining whether one-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal activities.

This paper has adopted the research procedure in meeting the objectives as set out in the introduction. Having outlined the quantitative questions the paper has provided a literature review on different theoretical aspects and prevalent practices to arrive at the conclusions. A thorough analysis has been made of the available literature. The provisions of the law have been considered in analyzing the results and the shortcomings that need to be removed have also been outlined.

Limitations

The main and only significant limitation to this research is the inadequacy of exhaustive research on the subject matter due to which a complete analysis and recommendation could not be presented about the accurate figures on the topic in question.

Discussion and Conclusion

In considering the contention that there is no difference in the criminal activity of repeat offenders and one-time offenders it is to conclude that the same is not true. The truth is highlighted in this research pertains to the fact that one-time offenders who continue to participate in criminal activity have a greater risk of being repeat offenders than one-time offenders who do not continue to participate in criminal. There is thus a strong need to engage in efforts and initiatives that improve the working of the criminal justice system in viewing the crime patterns amongst youth. The high incidence of repeat crimes committed by offenders as outlined in this paper is primarily due to the loopholes prevalent in the awarding of sentences for petty crimes that are taken lightly by most other countries in the world. Youth is sensitive and an easy target to get involved in petty crimes and then on to bigger ones if they are not checked at the right time. If they get opportunities to learn of the criminal options available to them there is all likelihood that they will get involved in criminal behavior. This can be avoided if first-time offenders are dealt with differently by way of counseling and light punishments so that they strengthen society instead of becoming a liability.

References

Office for National Statistics, 2010. Prisoners in 2008, Web.

Canter David, 2000. Offender Profiling And Criminal Differentiation, Accepted for Publication in Journal of Criminal and Legal Psychology

Farrington D P, 1998. Psychological Explanations of Crime Aldershot, Ashgate.

Farrington D P and Lambert S, 1994. Differences between burglars and violent offenders Psychology, Crime, and Law.

Giddens Duneier & Appelbaum, 2005. Introduction to Sociology. Web.

Greek, 2005. Criminological Theory, Web.

Kleinig John, 2006. Correctional Ethics, Ashgate.

Lobato A, 2000. Criminal Weapon Use in Brazil: A Psychological Analysis. In D.V.Canter and L.J.Alison (eds) Profiling Property Crimes. Offender Profiling Series Vol IV. Dartmouth: Aldershot.

Pelaez Vicky, 2008. The prison industry: big business or a new form of slavery? Global Research, Web.

Ressler R K, Burgess, A W and Douglas, (1988). Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

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