n Journal of Public Administration - Effects of incarceration on recidivism in South Africa

Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


The data on recidivism can be really misleading due to the fact that the direct measurement on recidivism may preclude some of the offenders who ought to form part of the data due to the type of measurement that the system is utilising. The statistics on recidivism might be inconsistent but recent data portray that education has a serious impact on recidivism. According to Bednarowski (2010), the governments should invest a great deal in the educational programmes for the inmates as educating an offender reduces recidivism dramatically and it also reduces the costs associated with long term of housing incarcerated offenders. Recent studies indicate that the general numbers for recidivism are that 50% to 70% of offenders recidivate within a period of three years. However, the impact that the educational programmes have on recidivism is that the rate is reduced by at least 29%. Recidivism is mostly defined by researchers and organisations to address the goal and objectives of the study concerned. Recidivism could be defined in three specific ways: duration of time monitored; types of offenses included; and inclusion of parole violations. The duration of time monitored varies per agency but the period of three years is the most generally utilised period to rate recidivism. The credence regarding harsh sentences is that life in prison is abysmal and the societal stigma associated with it might deter criminal behaviour, which could reduce recidivism. However, offenders, when they are sentenced, are mostly antisocial and when they spend most time with other peers who have the same behaviour, they become worse than when they went in, which might lead to recidivism. To this extent, this paper seeks to investigate the effect of incarceration on recidivism and the reduction of crime in South Africa.

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