The statistics relating to recidivism are mind numbing:
- In 2011, the Pew Center on the States reported the overall recidivism rate[i] in the United States to be 40% three years after release. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics in 2002 had reported a rate of 51.1%.
- Department of Justice figures suggest that, within three years of release, approximately 2.5% of rapists will commit another rape; 1% of murderers will kill again[ii]. Compare this with a 1995 study by Quincy, Rice & Harris which placed the long-term reconviction rate of rapists at 23%.
- Recidivism among child molesters has been estimated as 20%[iii]. However, a 1993 study by Hansen, Steffy & Guathier indicated that 42% of sexual predators are reconvicted for sexual crimes, violent crimes or both[iv]. Many victims do not report sexually based crimes, and not all such crimes brought to the attention of police are solved. Consequently, re-arrest and reconviction data for sexually based crimes greatly underestimates re-offense.
How can anyone not be repelled by these figures and the behavior they reflect? How can mercy toward criminals be reconciled with justice for victims? Yet Christians are asked to put their feelings aside, and trust that God will do the impossible. As He has done for us.
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink…” (Rom. 12: 20; Prov. 25: 21).
Lord Jesus, You teach us to return good for evil, to love even our enemies and those who would spitefully use us. This lesson is contrary to our nature. Our first instinct is to strike out, especially when loved ones have been harmed. How are we to overcome our inclinations?
Help us remember that love is stronger than hate. Help us believe that You will render justice – in this world or the next – even if we cannot. Extend Your grace to us, Lord, that we may extend Your mercy to others.
[i] Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons (April 2011), http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2011/Pew_State_of_Recidivism.pdf .
[iv] Hanson, Karl; Steffy, Richard; Gauthier, Rene; Long-Term Recidivism of Child Molesters, Journal of Consulting Psychology, Vol. 61 (4), pp. 646-652 (August 1993), APA PsychNET DIRECT, http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/0022-006X.61.4.646 .