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Friday, October 28, 2011

Recidivism

In April the Pew Center on the States released an interesting study that found Minnesota had one of the highest criminal recidivism rates in the country. What is recidivism?  It is probably one of the most talked about topics at our weekly meetings where we review crime trends and crime that is occurring in the City.  Recidivism is defined by dictionary.com as “repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.”  It is the repeat offenders who are committing the majority of our crime in Duluth.

While the validity of the Pew study has been argued by many Minnesota officials, your police will tell you we don’t know where we rank nationally, but we have a serious problem with habitual offenders.   It would be great to see the increased use of GPS monitoring, curfews and geographical restrictions in offender monitoring. The repeat offenders who are not sent to prison should have mandated curfews, geographical restrictions, and police officers on the street should be provided the offender information (I had this information at my finger tips in Wisconsin as a police officer almost 20 years ago-something we still don’t have in Minnesota).  If an officer finds them in violation they are authorized to bring them to jail.  Too often we find chronic offenders out and about at two in the morning in an area they should not be, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, only to find out days later they are on probation. 

Oregon had the greatest reduction in recidivism in the Pew study.  It found “Oregon also experienced the biggest decline in recidivism from 1999 to 2004, a drop of almost 32 percent. Oregon officials attribute their success to a comprehensive approach to reform and a commitment to change that reaches across all levels of government—from the supervision officer in the field, to the judiciary, through the state corrections department and up the ranks of legislative leadership.”

While police are usually the ones who receive the criticism when crime occurs, it is my hope the Pew study will encourage a dialog among our policy makers to improve our State’s response to repeat criminal offenders.  Minnesota’s response to repeat offenders simply needs to improve.  Let’s hope we can move beyond the budget debate soon and get on with improving our criminal justice system’s response to repeat offenders.


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