A systematic review of criminal recidivism rates worldwide: 3-year update.
Yukhnenko D., Sridhar S., Fazel S.
Background: Comparing recidivism rates between countries may provide useful information about the relative effectiveness of different criminal justice policies. A previous 2015 review identified criminal recidivism data for 18 countries and found little consistency in outcome definitions and time periods. We aimed to update recidivism rates in prisoners internationally. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of criminal recidivism rates in prisoners and followed PRISMA guidelines. Using five bibliographic indexes, we carried out non-country-specific and targeted searches for 50 countries with the largest total prison populations. We included reports and studies of released prisoners that reported re-arrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates. Meta-analysis was not possible due to multiple sources of heterogeneity. Results: We identified criminal recidivism information for 23 countries. Of the 50 countries with the largest prison populations, 10 reported recidivism rates for prisoners. The most commonly reported outcome was the 2-year reconviction rate. We were able to examine reconviction between different time periods for 11 countries and found that most reported small changes in official recidivism rates. Overall, for 2-year follow-up period, reported re-arrest rates were between 26% and 60%, reconviction rates ranged from 20% to 63%, and reimprisonment rates varied from 14 to 45%. Conclusions: Although some countries have made efforts to improve reporting, recidivism rates are not comparable between countries. Criminal justice agencies should consider using reporting guidelines described here to update their data.