Imprisonment is not more effective than community‐based sanctions in reducing re‐offending

Added April 18, 2020

Citation: Villettaz P, Gillieron G, Killias, M. The effects on re‐offending of custodial vs. non‐custodial sanctions: an updated systematic review of the state of knowledge. Campbell Systematic Reviews 2015; 1

What is this: Any setting which brings a large number of people into regular contact is an environment in which a respiratory infectious disease, such as COVID-19, can easily spread. Prison is such a setting and evidence on using custodial or non-custodial sentences may inform policies about imprisoning people convicted of a crime.

In this Campbell systematic review, the authors searched for research that compared the effects of custodial and non‐custodial sentences on re‐offending. They did not restrict by type or language of publication and searched for studies published between 1961 and 2013. They included 14 studies.

What was found: Imprisonment is no more effective than community‐based sanctions in reducing re‐offending.

What’s uncertain: Whether there are differences between imprisonment and community‐based sanctions on outcomes related to health, employment, family and social networks, is uncertain.


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