Recidivism is the tendency for someone to re-offend or commit another crime after completing their first sentence. Go here for a full description of recidivism and why it happens.
Anyone who has been through the justice system faces stigma that makes re-entering society that much harder. These negative assumptions impact how they feel about themselves and the opportunities around them. You can help change entire communities for the better by advocating for three areas that make a measurable impact on youth recidivism rates.
Providing youth in custody with educational opportunities is crucial in reducing recidivism. Studies showed that those who received education while incarcerated were 43% less likely to re-offend than those who did not participate in educational programs.
Education in custody can include finishing their high school diplomas, applying for post-secondary education, or learning technical skills. All of which set them up to benefit their communities.
Stable jobs with room for growth have been shown to reduce the risk of returning to criminal behaviour. “Work = positive behaviour” sounds simple, but it requires planning and opportunity creation on the justice system’s end.
While incarcerated or under probation, youth should be given chances to gain certifications and participate in work assignments that mimic outside employment environments. This employment readiness enhances their skills, experience, confidence, and resume to be ready to succeed in employment as soon as possible.
Mental health and addiction treatments
Mental health and addiction support have shown to be the most needed and life-changing opportunities for young people while incarcerated. Substance use is one of the most common indicators of illegal activity among youth and must be addressed to reintegrate into society successfully.
Some popular therapies and programs with positive results to reduce recidivism in youth are aggression replacement training, family therapy, role modelling, cognitive and motivational therapies, and contingency management.
What can you do?
Incarceration is an expensive temporary solution that doesn’t inherently change someone’s future behaviours. As an advocate for long-term solutions in youth justice, you are removing the stigma on young people who made mistakes and helping create purposeful communities.
You can help reduce stigma and support reintegration efforts by:
- Sharing social media posts from advocacy groups and social service organizations in the sector
- Educating yourself on the legal processes youth face and the barriers that exist
- Donating to reintegration efforts
- Participating (physically or virtually) in advocacy initiatives and events
Written by Mariella Martino
Community Access Coordinator