Once a Criminal Always a Criminal? A 15-Year Analysis of Recidivism Among Female Prisoners in Massachusetts

Mary Ellen Mastrorilli, Maureen Norton-Hawk, Nicole Usher


The study of prisoner recidivism has long captured the interest of criminal justice researchers. Recidivism studies attempt to answer a variety of questions ranging from what are the characteristics of those who reoffend, what factors predict offender recidivism, and how long does a recidivist remain in the community before finding themselves in conflict with the law again. Unlike many studies that examine recidivism over a relatively short term - three to five years, this study investigates recidivism over a 15-year period among a group of female offenders released from a Massachusetts prison in 1995. Findings point to three propositions moving forward. First, correctional programming geared specifically toward youthful offenders might be necessary to promote desistance over the life course. Second, offender monitoring and accountability up to 36 months after release from incarceration may reduce the risk of re-offending. Third, studies with a follow-up period of ten years would be a valuable addition to the recidivism literature to advance our understanding of chronic offending among women.


female offenders, recidivism, prisoner reentry

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17583/generos.2015.1545

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Géneros - Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies | ISSN: 2014-3613

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