What does Repeat Offender mean?
A repeat offender is an individual who has committed multiple, repeated crimes. Unfortunately, studies suggest that up to 40% of individuals who are released from prison are likely to return within a few years and become what the state terms “repeat offenders.”
The state and federal government have a special interest in preventing recidivism, or repetitive offending, due to the high costs and the increased danger to other citizens. With this in mind, many states have passed laws which allow for more severe sentencing guidelines for individuals who are considered repeat offenders, even if the crime is the same.
Repeat offenders and reintegrating back into society
Not only can repeat offenders be sentenced to much harsher penalties, some states, such as California, have institute habitual offender laws. Under California’s Three Strikes Law, criminals convicted of a third felony can be automatically sentenced to prison terms. Although this law was recently updated to eliminate the application to actions deemed non-violent, proponents of the law argue that it can be a serious deterrent and can eliminate recidivism.
Others claim the issue of repeat offenders is a much broader societal issue, and society needs to take a closer look at how to deter criminal activity after a person has been released from prison. Specifically, society should review some of the limitations imposed on felons, specifically their difficulty finding employment following their prison release, inability to find adequate housing, and their general inability to reintegrate back into society.
Recently efforts have also been made to increase the educational opportunities, training, therapy, medical benefits, and mental health support of released criminals- all in an effort to reduce recidivism. Some state legislatures have also worked to reduce the hurdles to clear criminal records and reduce employment discrimination against ex-offenders.
Proponents of these efforts argue that it’s more important to take steps to reduce repeat offending by implementing programs to prevent crime rather than simply appearing tough on crime and waiting until a crime has been committed to act.
Charged with a crime as a repeat offender
If you are a repeat offender and you have been charged with a crime getting legal help is very important. As mentioned above, many states sentence repeat offenders to more severe punishment than other alleged criminals, including longer jail or prison terms. A criminal attorney can explain the laws in your state.