1.1 Background To The Study
All societies throughout the world are confronted with the problems of crime that range from mild to the most severe that pose a serious danger to the safety of her citizens. Criminals after convicted of being guilty of committing a crime are incarcerated in prisons for the purpose of rehabilitation, correction, retribution, deterrence and incapacitation. Crimes as well as recidivism pervades all the societies of the world. Recidivism remains a considerable problem which faces societies and governments throughout the world (Rakis 2005; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2012). In the recently published review of recidivism among released prisoners in 30 American states, over 67.8% of the 404,638 prisoners released in 2005 were re-arrested within 3 years while 76. 6% were arrested within five years (Durose et al. 2014).
Recidivism has not only been on the increase in Sub-Saharan Africa, but has become a major social problem affecting the society, governments, multinationals, humanitarian organizations the world over (Osayi 2013). Recidivism is not limited to adult criminals, but also to the young ones. A major concern in the area of juvenile delinquency is the repeated arrests and incarceration of young offenders. Thompson and Morris (2013) reports that recidivism rate amongst juvenile offenders has remained high and stable with estimates of reoffending ranging from 30-90%. Mendel (2011) reported that 81% of male and 45% of female children were re-arrested within 36 months after release from the South Africa Division for youth.
After serving jail terms, prisoners and jail inmates are released back to their communities, and policies designed to increase the chances that released offenders will successfully reintegrate them into society have become critical issues in criminal justice over the last couple of years. More recently, in the last year or two the issues have gained renewed attention because of budget concerns at all levels of government. The hope of society that inmates released from correctional institutions or penitentiaries will not return to crime is based majorly on deterrence and rehabilitation.
Imprisonment as a disposition method has created a lot of problems not only in Nigeria criminal justice system but also, in most countries. It is now believed that imprisonment no longer serves the purpose for which it was meant to serve- deterrence. The offenders wrong the state yet the state is responsible for their welfare while in prison. In 2012, over N50 billion (about $312,500,000) was budgeted for prison and yet the prison sub-culture makes inmates come out more hardened (Appropriation Act 2012).
There are challenges and problems facing all societies when it comes to the incarceration and rehabilitation of offenders. For example, scientific methodological and structural problems and corruption which are inherent in deterrence, rehabilitation, and reformation institutions, program and processes. These bottlenecks undermine the desired and expected results of removing criminals or socially dangerous individuals from the society and keeping them in penitentiaries for treatment and cleansing before they are returned or released back into society (Gross, 1992). Deterrence implies that it is of utmost importance that punishment should prevent crime. Therefore, punishment is expected not only to be severe but also to be served swiftly. Incapacitation, on the other hand, underlines the fact that if an offender’s liberty or freedom of movement is curtailed temporarily or permanently and he/she is permanently supervised and kept under constant watch, such an offender will no longer be in a position to commit crime (Bohn and Haley, 1999, Obioha 2002, Danbazau, 2011). The credibility of the criminal justice system has been jeopardized that it does not longer serve the philosophy behind imprisonment (Odekunle, 2000).
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Recidivism is now a common phenomenon among inmates in the Nigerian prisons. The Nigerian prison system is witnessing an enormous increase in people relapsing into crime and criminality, recidivists. This development has challenged the practicality and feasibility of rehabilitation program in Nigerian prisons. These include both the male and female offenders/inmates in the Nigerian prison custody. Soyombo (2009) reported that the prevalence rate of criminal recidivism in Nigeria in 2005 was 37.3%. Also, Abrifor (2010) estimated the prevalence of recidivism in Nigeria prisons at 52.4% in 2010.
This trend in the high prevalence of recidivism shows that in Nigeria and in many other countries globally, prison consensus results have shown high rate of inmates’ release and high rate of inmates’ recidivism. As a result of this, crime by former inmates alone account for a substantial share of current and future crimes. From this background, peace, safety of lives and property are threatened thereby affecting the rate of investment in social and economic growth and developmental processes. Thus, it becomes imperative to examine gender perception on the prevalence rate, causes and determinants of recidivism among inmates in Nigeria prisons and the accompanying challenges on both social and economic developments in Nigeria. This makes the study of recidivism experience in Nigeria prisons service to be dynamic and interesting.
The high prevalence of recidivism has both consequences and implications for social and economic growth and development in Nigeria. Recidivism contributes to high crime rates which have resulted in loss of lives and property thereby threatening peace, safety of lives and national cohesion. Also, criminal activities by such recidivists have made the country unsafe for economic and commercial activities for both local and foreign investors, sometimes forcing them to relocate to safer countries. With such development, the country has lost billions of Naira which would have been invested for developmental projects that could benefit the Nigerian citizenry.
Studies on recidivism have linked its high prevalence to some observable factors such as gender (Renauer and Henning 2005; McELfresh, Yan and Janku, 2009;), lack of funds immediately following release from prison (Ross, Beck, and Len, 2000), poor employability and low wage earning capacity (Hins, 2002; Meyers, 2004), poor education and unstable work history (Buikhuisen and Meijs, 1983; Eisenberg, 2005), and quality of post-release neighbourhood environment (Gottfredson and Taylor, 1995), age at first arrest and type of offence (Ritchard, 2009) and age at release from confinement (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1984; Goffman and Beck, 2005). Subsequently, studies have equally indicated that the prevalence rate of recidivism appears to be positively influenced by availability of post-release job training programmes (Jengeleski, 1981), community treatment center placement (Beck, 2005), and availability of pre and post-release educational program (Black, 2001; Rossy, 1999). The rate at which criminals and other offenders who are re-arrested are becoming so alarming that it leaves all and sundry with a serious doubt in the prison system. This therefore has raised vital questions which will guide this study for further investigation.
1.3 Research Questions
This study will strive to address or answer the following question:
(i) What are the roles of the prisons in the rehabilitation of convicted criminals?
(ii) What are the causes of criminal recidivism among inmates?
(iii) How early release of inmates has led to criminal recidivism?
1.4 Objectives Of The Study
The general aim of this study is to examine the nexus between early release of inmates and criminal recidivism among inmates of Kaduna prison of Kaduna State. The following are the specific objectives of the study.
(i) To identify the roles of the prisons in the rehabilitation of convicted criminals
(ii) To examine the causes of criminal recidivism among inmates
(iii) To determine how early release of inmates leads to criminal recidivism
1.5 Significance Of The Study
The study examines the nexus between the early release of inmates and criminal recidivism among inmates in Kaduna convict prison. The significance of the study can be seen from the theoretical and practical angle. It also has great significance for policy makers.
At the theoretical level, this study will investigate the nexus between early release of inmates and criminal recidivism in Kaduna convict prison of Kaduna state. Existing works and literature on criminal recidivism seems to be scanty, as this will contribute to existing knowledge. Early release of inmates and criminal recidivism are dealt with as separate topics in most researches relating to the Nigerian criminal justice system.
Although the knowledge of criminal recidivism among inmates appears to be widespread, reports of increase release of inmates as a strategy for decongesting the prisons would tend to give a false view about the problem. While government is putting effort in tackling the problem of criminal recidivism through legislation, law enforcements and the Nigerian Prisons Service, the problem appears to be on the increase. This study is particularly important because it examines the concomitant criminal dimensions of those involved in criminal offences that return to their communities and commit more severe crimes after being released from prison. It will also contribute to knowledge by providing facts that will show the relationship or nexus between early release of inmates and criminal recidivism among inmates. The study also has the potentials to fill in the gap in knowledge, particularly in Nigeria and in Kaduna State in this area. This is because the bulk literatures showing the relationship between early release of inmates and criminal recidivism are mostly foreign (Agaba, et al.., 2004; UN, 1993).
At the practical level, the study will reveal some of the pitfalls existing in the practical operation of the prisons service, social workers and law enforcement agencies as to how they process criminals and criminologists. Areas that need improvement would be identified and suggestions for addressing them offered. Also, the study is significant to policy makers. It will assist them in formulating well informed policies that will help in addressing the problems recidivism among criminals and delinquency. Although the knowledge of issues surrounding the problem of recidivism and crime appears widespread, reports of increasing rates of societal and government efforts at tackling the problem appears to be centred on legislation. This approach is inadequate at tackling issues such as re-visitation of crime. There is a definite need to develop strategies and policies that involve integrated approach that include aspects of legislation, family social work and poverty alleviation through rehabilitation of affected inmates and convicts.
1.6 Scope Of The Study
Out of the four prisons located in Kaduna state i.e Zaria, Kafanchan, Kaduna Open prison and Kaduna convict prison (Central), the latter was the main focus of this study due to its proximity and convenience for the researcher. The respondents will include male and female inmates found within the age range of 18 to 50 years in Kaduna convict prison. This study is supposed to cover all the Prisons in Kaduna State, but due to time and financial constrain, the work is limited to Kaduna convict prison of Kaduna State.
The choice of this prison is due to its location and its centrality between the three senatorial representations within the state. Also, Kaduna State being the erstwhile administrative headquarters of Northern Nigeria is a melting pot of persons of diverse backgrounds.
Also, from NDLEA (2014), statistics of arrest and substance abuse shows that people who venture into these or are involved are mostly ex-convicts. Therefore, the choice of Kaduna State prison could stand as a representation of the whole North. Also, in 1917 Kaduna was made the Administrative Centre of the protectorate of Northern Nigeria by the colonial statue of Lord Lugard (Ideh, 1993; Ikhuoria, 1993; Adewuyi, 2008).
The administrative headquarters of Northern Nigeria was formerly in Lokoja, then Zungeru and later Kaduna. Lord Lugard decided to relocate the administrative headquarters to Kaduna for strategic reasons: Kaduna has less political complication because it has no strong tradition of indigenous political authority due to the heterogeneous nature of its dwellers. After the independence of Nigeria in October 1960, Kaduna continued as the capital of the Northern Region until 1967. From 1967 it became the capital of North Central up to 1974. It became Kaduna State in 1975 as a result of creation of more states. The old Kaduna State comprised the Katsina and Zaria provinces until again on the 23rd September 1987 when Katsina province was carved out to form Katsina State.
The economic activities of Kaduna State is largely related to its central geographical location and being the capital to the then Northern Nigeria. These have made it to have enjoyed the highest concentration of industries in the entire northern states apart from Kano. It has host of industries, educational and health institutions that have attracted many people within and outside the country constituting the cosmopolitan nature of the state. The constitution of people within the state has influenced the abuse of substances and crime, as a strategy to coping with the socio-economic challenges that will emerge. Hence, the need to find out the relationship or nexus between early release of inmates and criminal recidivism among inmates by taking a research in Kaduna convict prison.
1.7 Rationale For The Study
Without any doubt the rate of recidivism is on the increase all over the world and Nigeria is not an exception. This study has become needful taking into cognizance the various negative consequences of recidivism. Recidivism is a threat to peace and security; in some instances it results in the loss of lives, the loss of property and physical harm. It also impacts negatively on the socio-economic development and growth of the country. Recidivism is also a drain on the dwindling resources of the nation. The study of male recidivists is further needful because it has been established that male offenders have greater odds to reoffend because of association with criminal peers, possession of weapons, alcohol abuse and aggressive feelings (Benda 2005).
A study of this nature will, therefore, provide methods of understanding recidivists; broaden the explanation of predisposing factors of recidivism; and form a fulcrum that is needed for effective intervention strategies to find a lasting solution to the problem of recidivism.
1.8 Definitions And Operationalization Of Concepts
Criminal recidivism- According to Payne (2007) recidivism refers to repetitious criminal activity and is synonymous with terms such as “repeat offending” and “re-offending”. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology(2005) outlined that recidivism is usually measured in relation to the type of last sentence or last offence, as percentage re-offending, or re-convicted, within one, two, five or ten years.
Early release- J.U Godswill and M.K. Salawu (2015) asserts that inmate’s early release from custody is as a result of them been chronically ill and will pose a serious danger to other inmates.