Relapse Study in the Correctional Services of the Nordic Countries : Key Results and Perspectives
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Key findings and perspectives from a relapse study of correctional clients in the Nordic countries are presented and discussed. The findings are based on data from national computer registers of correctional offenders. Methodologically, a common definition of reoffending, a common observation period and a shared classification of offender groups are applied. Selected national differences are pointed out and discussed. In the article it is argued that the overall national differences in reoffending rates mainly reflect the national differences in the criminal sanction systems, such as the distribution and the proportion of principal crime type groups serving in prison compared to those serving community sanctions, and differences in risk of committing new offences. The latter is clearly reflected by the different percentages of previous prison sentences among different offender groups in prison and probation. Except for traffic offences, in total, all crime type groups reoffended more often to a different primary crime type than the original offence. This strongly indicates that most reoffenders seem to have comprehensive crime problems that have to be addressed. Some consequences for policy making when it comes to national expectations on general reductions in recidivism are also commented on, as well as some future perspectives.