THE LABELING OF CONVICTED FELONS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES FOR RECIDIVISM*

Authors


  • *

    The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers as well as Carter Hay, Dan Mears, Brian Stults, and especially Xia Wang for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Direct correspondence to Ted Chiricos (e-mail: tchiricos@fsu.edu).

Abstract

Florida law allows judges to withhold adjudication of guilt for individuals who have been found guilty of a felony and are being sentenced to probation. Such individuals lose no civil rights and may lawfully assert they had not been convicted of a felony. Labeling theory would predict that the receipt of a felony label could increase the likelihood of recidivism. Reconviction data for 95,919 men and women who were either adjudicated or had adjudication withheld show that those formally labeled are significantly more likely to recidivate in 2 years than those who are not. Labeling effects are stronger for women, whites, and those who reach the age of 30 years without a prior conviction. Second-level indicators of county characteristics (e.g., crime rates or concentrated disadvantage) have no significant effect on the adjudication/recidivism relationship.

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