People don’t just wake up in the morning one day and decide that they’re sick of following the rules. Criminal activity is often not a conscious decision but rather the result of a confluence of events that may seem outside of the control of the person involved.
Many people who commit criminal acts do so because they have underlying issues that contributed to a bad decision-making process. Addiction is an obvious example, as addiction can push people to purchase and consume illegal or controlled substances and can easily lead to criminal charges. However, it’s also possible that trauma earlier in life, like service in the military or an abusive upbringing, could lead to someone having violent outbursts that eventually result in criminal charges.
The focus of the criminal justice system is often on punishing crime instead of understanding and addressing why a crime occurred, which leads to high rates of recidivism across the country.
The majority of people who go to prison once will wind up incarcerated again
An analysis of arrest and incarceration data makes it shockingly clear that our society fails to support people who have finished their jail sentence and attempted to re-enter society. Those with criminal convictions in their background may have a hard time getting good jobs or even finding a place to live. Often, they also struggle to get into college or secure funding for school.
All of that combined leads to a shocking 76.6% of released inmates winding up back in prison within five years of their release. Unless someone facing criminal charges both attempts to defend against those charges to minimize their impact and does the necessary and difficult work of understanding how they made decisions that led to criminal consequences, so they could very well find themselves in a similar position not long after they fulfill their obligation to society by completing their sentence.
Those struggling deserve support, not castigation
The extenuating circumstances that push someone into a bad situation may not mitigate their culpability in the eyes of the law. Still, understanding what led to undesirable behavior, uncontrolled aggression or addiction can be the first step toward correcting the problem rather than just focusing on the symptom.
You can address the symptom by working with a criminal defense attorney to avoid the worst consequences for a charge, but getting other support, like counseling, can make it easier to address the underlying cause and prevent yourself or someone you love from becoming part of that horrifying 76% recidivism statistics.