“In a recent essay for the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Cecilia M. Klingele suggested that recidivism rates produce a ‘one-dimensional’ picture that not only skews the decisions of judges and parole boards, but prevents the development of effective policies that can reduce mass incarceration.
(The Wisconsin professor) called on policymakers and private donors to stop using recidivism as their sole criteria for judging successful outcomes, and instead apply the more nuanced standard of “desistance” from crime used by criminologists to measure an individual’s changes in behavior over time.
Klingele admitted that taking an individual’s ‘desistance’–or gradual reduction in criminality—into account in day-to-day justice system decisions requires taking a deeper and more labor-intensive look at an individual’s history. But she points out that some intervention programs are already oriented towards a more ‘holistic approach.’
But she observed that real change can only come when policymakers move away from the punitive strategies that characterize the U.S. justice system.
From The Crime Report.