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PATTERNS OF RECIDIVISM AMONG INMATES: ACASE STUDY OF AWKA CORRECTIONAL CENTRE

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                                                    Abstract

This study is an attempt to investigate pattern of recidivism among inmates in Akwa Correctional centre in Nigeria. Correctional centers are generally established with the sole aim of providing reformation, rehabilitation, and correctional facilities for those who have violated the law of the land and have been convicted and sentenced. This study attempts to reveal the major causes of recidivism among inmates of Awka Correctional center. Also, it is intended to urgently direct government’s attention to the problem of recidivism and its increase as well as to contribute to improvements and reform of Awka correctional center and other rehabilitation center in Nigeria. The study adopted simple percentage methods to analyze the causes of recidivism among inmates, 160 inmates and officers were randomly selected from the correctional centre. The theoretical background of this study was based on the theory of rehabilitation and the major research instrument used was the questionnaires. The findings revealed that; although there are follows up of offenders after being released from Akwa correctional centre, recidivism rate is still prevalent in the centre. Also, there is a relationship between ex-offenders who have undergone counseling or not during reentry and recidivism rates. The study recommends that government should ensure that adequate sensitization and orientation of Nigerian citizens and other stake holders on issues of inmates’ rehabilitation, reformation and reintegration into the society.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

The Nigerian experience from the increasing rate of recidivist has challenged the government, correctional centres and has attracted both national and international concern. According to researchers like 1, over the years, studies have revealed that inmates return to crime and that recidivism rate has risen. The common belief that inmates released from correctional centres will not easily return to crime is based majorly on deterrence and rehabilitation. According to Ajah 2, rehabilitation training is expected to give inmates a sense of direction and build their capacity to acquire skills that will make them productive when they are released. The prison system is also expected to inculcate basic moral values that will make offenders become law-abiding citizens when release.  

The word recidivism was derived from Latin ‘recidere’ which means to fall back. A recidivist is one who, after release from custody for having committed a crime is not living to society expectations. Instead, he or she falls back, or relapses into previous behavioral patterns and commits more crimes. Recidivism is simply defined as the event of an individual committing a new criminal offense after committing previous offenses.

Recidivism occurrence is not restricted to a particular region, race or age group. It has become a global phenomenon. In Nigeria, crime statistics on reported offences reflected that a total of 134,663 cases were reported in 2017. Offence against property has the highest number of cases reported with 68,579 of such cases reported. Offence against persons recorded 53,641 cases reported while offence against lawful authority recorded the least with 12,443 cases recorded respectively3. There were over two (2) million reported cases of recidivism documented in 2018, almost sixty nine thousand (69,000) more reoffenders than in 20174.

These high recidivating rates is influenced by factors such as poor conditions and poor funneling of penitentiaries, poor or lack of economic/financial empowerment after release, poor and insufficient reformatory and educational programmes, lack of substance abuse treatment programmes or lack of participation by inmates in such treatment programmes5.

Within the last few years, Nigerian prisoners have tremendously increased and many prisons are already overcrowded. In Nigeria, more than 300,000 offenders have been reported between year 2013 and second quarter of 2015 with male accounting for more than 90% and stealing as a leading crime6. However, within the time frame, about thirty thousand first-timer recidivists were documented while some recidivated as many as six times7. In Nigeria, like other African countries where rehabilitation of prisoners is disproportionately inadequate, issue of recidivism is complicated and most offenders are three times more likely to be rearrested8. Ex-convicts are often perceived by other members of the societies as being harmful and dangerous. Consequently, it exposes the sufferers to a great deal of stigmatization irrespective of the offence category. Even families of some well reformed ex-convicts refuse to welcome them into their fold which often times worsens the situation. However, this perception is not limited to family integration but also affect employability of ex-convicts.

A study conducted among parolees in Texas prison showed that having employment after leaving prison does not only reduce incidence of repeated commission of crime but also elongate time of re-incarceration9. As posted in a related report, many aspects of involvement in the criminalities can have long-term negative impacts on one’s ability to lead a more pro-social life10. Particularly in the area of employment, as those with criminal justice involvement face a variety of obstacles to obtaining quality, stable employment without discrimination and stigmatization. Many ex-convicts find that their criminal record is an automatic barrier to finding work because employers often reject applicants with records of conviction11. Howard 11, further noted that social rejection has been shown to have a negative effect on individual’s physical and emotional well-being. The absence of societal acceptance had compelled many well reformed ex-convicts to rejoin criminals and become recidivists. Also, persistent rejection and discrimination against ex-prisoners is partly responsible for the high rate of recidivism among ex-convicts. This has been a great concern to the government given their socio-economic and security implications.

The ultimate cause of recidivism and the survival period are still sketchy. In Nigeria, discrimination and stigmatization of the ex-convicts is religiously and culturally pronounced in order to discourage potential recidivists. Quantitative research on recidivism and its determinants in Nigeria and sub-Sahara regions still remain a difficult venture due to unavailability or inaccessible data about prisoners. Though, reported educational attainment is one of the predictors of increase in the rate of recidivism among male prisoners in Ekiti State, South west, Nigeria 12 while in other studies, predisposing factors that increase recidivism among recidivists in Nigeria are gender, marital status, family background, imprisonment terms and type of crime 13 but the effects of these variables on the out of prison survival time still remains elusive.

Furthermore, it was found that younger people are likely to recidivate more than their older counterparts14. This is an indication that some youths are channeling their energy to crime and unprofitable activities rather than national building. Similarly, Janku 15 revealed in his study that those with little or no education are most likely to recidivate as compared to more educated people15. This might be connected to the fact that educated people might find it easier to be employed coupled with better level of reasoning.

In addition, Latessa 16 expressed the view that the inmate who has served a longer amount of time in prison has had his tendencies toward criminality strengthened and is therefore more likely to recidivate than the inmate who has served a lesser amount time. They argued that prisons are like schools of crime where one learns more crime from the peers (inmates).

The persisting rate of recidivism in recent times as earlier discussed, has become worrisome, and calls for concern. It is no gain saying that continuous increase of recidivism can slow down development in any society. This is because crime is disruptive and destructive especially, violent ones and if left to flourish or uncontrolled, can lead to a state of formlessness’ and probably, (eventually or suddenly) result in the disappearance of a society or groups17. Against this background, this work sought to determine the rate of recidivism and investigate the determinants of recidivism among inmates in Nigerian prisons.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Nigerian prisons system are still struggling to perform their statutory responsibilities which include the custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation18. In addition to this, 19 affirmed that the Nigerian prisons service is in a dilemma because rehabilitation and retribution practices are not compatible. Ugwuoke 19, observed that the Nigerian correctional institutions are saddled with the function of performing contradictory roles. On the one hand, the prisons are expected to reform and rehabilitate inmates; while on the other hand, they are equally expected to perform the retributive function of ensuring that the inmates are adequately punished for their crimes. Despite the fact that the Nigerian prisons service today, is assigned the dual responsibility of ensuring the safe custody of offenders as well as their reformation and rehabilitation20, huge part of the prisons’ activities favour retribution. In Nigeria, the welfare of inmates or prisoners is in a terrible condition. The prevailing poor facilities and welfare such as (poor feeding, toilets, beddings among others) which the inmates are made to face have provided a fertile ground for revolt. It is certain, that most of the jailbreak incidents which have been recorded in the country were occasioned by the unbearable inhuman situation in our prisons21. However, it is worrisome to see that a crucial aspect of identifying the inmates’ needs is bluntly neglected in Nigerian prisons. Despite Nigeria’s progress on democratic, economic and political reforms, Nigeria’s prisons are yet to make appreciable impact on transforming inmates2. Relatedly, Achu 22 noted that Nigeria’s prisons are a “living hell” with twenty to thirty inmates arriving at the prison daily thus overcrowding the reformatory structure. Prison and detention conditions remain harsh and threatening. Inmates are not regularly allowed outside their cells for recreation or exercise and this has a psychological effects on their mental health. Many inmates provide their own food. Petty corruption among prison officials makes it difficult for money provided for food to reach the prisoners hence poor inmates often rely on “hand-outs” from others to survive. These unwholesome treatments have contributed to the death of numerous inmates2. It is to this effect that one wonders whether the prisons are actually rehabilitating convicts or are still depending on punitive practices which hardens their heart the more. This research became vital because it aims at investigating pattern of recidivism among inmates in Akwa Correctional centre.

  1. Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the patterns of recidivism among inmates of Awka Correctional center. Specifically, this study aims to achieve the following sub-objectives:

  1. To examine the types of correctional programme given to the inmates in Akwa Correctional centre.
  2. To ascertain the causes and effect of prison reformation activities on recidivism.
  3. To ascertain if a relationship exist between poor welfare conditions of Akwa Correctional centre and reoffending.
  4. To identify measures in which recidivism can be controlled in Akwa Correctional centre.

1.4 Research Questions

The following determining research questions will serve as a guide to the process:

  1.  Are there any form of empowerment for inmates after being released from Akwa Correctional cerntre?
  2. Do inmates from Akwa Correctional centre reoffend and what are the causes of such reoffending?
  3. What are the relationship between poor welfare conditions of inmates in Akwa Correctional centre and reoffending?
  4. What is the rates of recidivism in Akwa Correctional centre?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study highlights the pattern of recidivism in view of the correctional facilities in Akwa correctional centre, it is believed that at completion, the findings of this study will brings to the fore the causes and effects of recidivism as well as the inadequacies, deficiencies, flaws and other problems inherent in the process of rehabilitation and reformation of prisoners in the Nigerian correctional centre.

This study will be of immense benefit to policy makers as its recommendations will have practical implications in government policies which if adopted will address the root causes of recidivism and provide adequate measures in mitigating reoccurrence. The study intends to highlight the internal causes of recidivism by critically examining the correctional measures in place that might help reduce the rate of recidivism. The study findings will contribute to the existing literatures on recidivism, and to examine the rehabilitation measures used in Nigerian correctional centres. Lastly, this study will contribute to existing knowledge in the area which will be of immense benefit to researchers, educationist and the society at large.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out to examine the effect correction centre have on inmates by examining inmates of Awka correctional centre as a case study, also with a view to provide solution to problems of recidivism. The subject scope includes the staff of Akwa correctional centre and the recidivists as at the time of the study.

The scope of the research covers the comprehensive pattern of recidivism, rehabilitation and status of training readily available for inmates in Nigerian prisons. It also provides an insight to legal standard and policies in which these training and rehabilitation evolved.

Due to time and financial constants, the study will not be able to cover all the correctional centres in Nigeria. The study will therefore be limited to Akwa correctional centre.                                         

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

Recidivism: Refers to return to prison after a previous incarceration23.

Inmates: These are people living in an institution such as correctional centre or a mental hospital.

Recidivist: A recidivist  is   a  person  habitually  addicted  to  crime  or  one  who   is  a criminal  by habit  or  by disposition  formed  by  the  repetition  of  crimes. 

Patterns: Is the regular way in which something happen or it’s done.

Correctional centre: A building where people kept as a punishment for a crime they have committed, or while they are waiting for trail.

Rehabilitation: To teach (a criminal in prison) to live a normal and productive life.

Reformation: An act of relinquishing a criminal lifestyle.

Reintegration: The action or process of integrating someone back into society.

Stigmatization: A mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.

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