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Study: Minor parole violations put a lot of ex-cons back in prison

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk
Prison bars

Sentencing people to prison instead of probation can have some long-lasting effects, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

It found that if you're convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison rather than probation, you're more likely to go back to prison.

Jeff Morenoff, a sociology professor at U of M and co-author of the study, says people who are sentenced to prison have a hard time escaping the criminal justice system.

“There's an intrinsic logic to the system that ensures that the flow of people into prison is going to keep growing, because of the high risk they are at of being sent back once they are let out,” Morenoff said.

The study, which looks at the relationship between imprisonment and future felony convictions in the U.S. between 2003 and 2006, found that people who have been to prison are more likely to be sent back for parole violations than a new felony charge.

“When you sentence somebody to prison, you increase the likelihood that that person is going to go back to prison at some time in the future. This is because they are now under more surveillance than people who [were sentenced to] parole,” he said.

According to the study, this is true for people of all races and ethnicities.

The most common reasons people in Michigan are sent back to prison are weapons possession, driving without permission, and moving residences.

To learn more about recidivism and the study, check out Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America’s website.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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