August 22nd, 2012
by Ben Newman

One of the risks facing correctional healthcare professionals is recidivism. There is a correlation between higher rates of recidivism and increased medical malpractice claims. Recidivism is the term used for individuals who have been incarcerated for a crime who then repeat the illegal behavior after being released from jail or prison.
Studies show that recidivism has improved recently, however, 67 percent of prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated. Released prisoners with the highest rate of recidivism were robbers (70.2 percent), burglars (74.0 percent), larcenists (74.6 percent), vehicle thieves (78.8 percent), possession of or selling stolen property (77.4 percent) and possessing, using or selling illegal weapons (70.2 percent). Our correctional system in the US works very hard, but the job of “correcting” criminal behavior is very difficult.
Other big issues that contribute to recidivism are mental health disorders and drug and alcohol addiction. More than 70 percent of prisoners with mental health disorders have substance abuse issues. About half of all inmates are serving time because of drugs. Studies have shown that inmates who participate in treatment programs while incarcerated have 20 percent lower recidivism rates and 35 percent lower drug relapse rates.

It is more important than ever for the correctional healthcare system to successfully diagnose and treat substance abuse and mental health disorders, which will lead to lower recidivism rates in the correctional system. When correctional healthcare professionals properly diagnose and treat these disorders, they are having a direct effect on reducing the incidence of recidivism and lowering their risk of medical malpractice claims.