A comparative analysis of recidivism with specific reference to crimino-victimogenic variables, offence analysis and programme participation.
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Recidivism research is an important area of study within the field of Criminology as it can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of current sentencing practices and correctional interventions alike. An understanding of the factors associated with the continued involvement in offending behaviour after the completion of a formal correctional sentence is essential, not only from an intervention perspective but also in terms of policy development and legislation. Despite this importance, there is however a distinct dearth of both theoretical and empirical understandings of recidivism and its associated factors. It is for this reason that the current study aimed to develop an understanding of the criminogenic and victimogenic factors associated with recidivism in South Africa including the effect of programme participation and offence type. The lack of existing frameworks focused on recidivism made it necessary to utilise research strategies that were of an exploratory, descriptive and explanatory nature. Primary data needed to be collected and then tested on a larger scale to both identify and verify the factors associated with recidivism in the South African context. The study was furthermore underpinned theoretically by the cognitive-behavioural theory due to its proven effectiveness as an intervention approach in the correctional and clinical environment. A purposive sample of 252 total participants were drawn from the Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces in South Africa to participate in either the qualitative (interviews and focus groups N=50) or quantitative (questionnaires N=202) phases of the study. The results from the qualitative phase of the study were used in conjunction with the theoretical and empirical perspectives to develop a quantitative measuring instrument to test the variables identified (cognitive-behavioural, victimogenic, social, environmental and other) on a larger scale. In addition to the factors associated with recidivism, programmatic and general variables were also included in the final measurement instrument. Inferential (chi-square and correlations) and descriptive (means, standard deviations and frequency distributions) statistical analyses were utilised to compare the participants’ responses to the above mentioned factor domains and provide a general description of the characteristics of the sample respectively.