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Abstract

As the US incarceration rate has reached an unprecedented level, so has the number of people leaving prison and returning to the community. Faced with the prison population growth together with the economic downturn and budget crises, many states are seeking ways to break the increasing cycle of recidivism. Although research on recidivism and desistance has not always learned from each other, recently, there is an increasing convergence of these two streams of research. This convergence has been stimulated by a variety of factors, but most notably, it draws from emerging research on redemption, which focuses on the inverse relationship between recidivism risk and time since previous contact with the criminal justice system. Although the concepts of recidivism, desistance, and redemption are all about continuity and change in criminal offending over time, the relationship between the three has not been examined. In this paper, we discuss the interface between recidivism and desistance research with a particular focus on redemption research; point out one emerging consensus from both recidivism and desistance research, namely, the importance of offenders' motivation and individual internal change; and discuss new ideas to effectively improve our approaches of reducing recidivism and facilitating desistance.