Italian Journal of Criminology

The official journal of the Italian Society of Criminology

by Gilda Scardaccione

The analysis of the main directions in the study and research on recidivism deserves some thoughts regarding both the methodological and theoretical references. It is also necessary to ask questions about the purposes that such studies must have and about the relationships with the preventive action and the fight against crime. In fact, the criminal career studies tend to neglect the influence that the impact of the judicial intervention has on the development of life course. Judicial intervention may break the deviant career because of the length of the sentence, favouring courses of socialization or, otherwise, of stigma. According to the labelling approach, the impact of the justice facilitates the construction of the deviant identity and the subsequent life choices in irreversible way. In this perspective, the studies on recidivism have often coincided with the studies on the deviant career. These studies have recently settled according to a multifactorial model of interpretation of crimes, although they have gained greater fluidity than the stiffness of an approach based on the causal factors model. This work proposes a conception of deviance still centred on the collection and analysis of determinants. The emphasis on the search of the causes takes to give little importance to the various effects of justice on the genesis and development of the deviant career. The judicial intervention is often crucial to deny the access to social opportunities. otherwise, the enforcement of penalty can enable integration processes, not only from a social point of view, but also encouraging personal itineraries of reflection. These considerations lead to the conclusion that a review of the theoretical and methodological studies on recidivism and more emphasis on the true extent of the judicial intervention on the development of deviant life course are needed. It is so proposed a reformulation of the definition of recidivism focused not only on the outcome of the positive conclusion of the measure applied, but also on the future development. It is also stated that the studies on recidivism have to consider how the sentence will not only affect the commission of crimes, but also change the person through the activation of processes of accountability and internal self.


Professore associato di Criminologia, Università di Chieti-Pescara
Gilda Scardaccione

From: Rassegna Italiana di Criminologia n. 2/2010



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