A Systematic Review of Criminal Recidivism Rates Worldwide: Current Difficulties and Recommendations for Best Practice.
Fazel S., Wolf A.
OBJECTIVES: To systematically review recidivism rates internationally, report whether they are comparable and, on the basis of this, develop best reporting guidelines for recidivism. METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Google Web, and Google Scholar search engines for recidivism rates around the world, using both non-country-specific searches as well as targeted searches for the 20 countries with the largest total prison populations worldwide. RESULTS: We identified recidivism data for 18 countries. Of the 20 countries with the largest prison populations, only 2 reported repeat offending rates. The most commonly reported outcome was 2-year reconviction rates in prisoners. Sample selection and definitions of recidivism varied widely, and few countries were comparable. CONCLUSIONS: Recidivism data are currently not valid for international comparisons. Justice Departments should consider using the reporting guidelines developed in this paper to report their data.