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201 Recidivism and criminal histories of gun offenders
  1. Michael Ostermann1,
  2. Jordan Costa1,
  3. John Gunn2,
  4. Bernadette Hohl3
  1. 1Rutgers-Newark, School of Criminal Justice
  2. 2Rutgers-Newark, NJ Center on Gun Violence Research
  3. 3Rutgers-Newark, School of Public Health


Purpose To explore predictors of engaging in gun violence amongst a sample of formerly incarcerated individuals attempting to transition back into their communities in 2009 (n=11,026). Information about predictors of gun violence perpetration committed by former prisoners could arm service providers with a more nuanced understanding of how to formulate continuity of care models to decrease violence in at risk communities, and amongst at risk populations.

Methods Data reflecting the criminal histories, recidivism patterns, demographic information, and actuarial risk scores on a pre-release assessment instrument are compared between former prisoners that were (n=1,158) or were not (n=9,868) incarcerated or previously incarcerated for committing gun crimes. The analytic strategy culminates with the construction of a competing risks survival analysis that estimates the sub-hazard ratios of committing a gun-related offense during the approximate 4-year follow-up period.

Results Age, risk classification, and current or former conviction for a gun related offense are statistically significant predictors of committing a gun offense during the follow-up. Former prisoners labeled as current or former ‘gun offenders’ were at an approximate two-fold increased hazard of committing a gun crime when compared to former prisoners incarcerated for non-gun crimes.

Conclusions Policy makers, practitioners, and releasing authorities should attempt to better gear evidence-based rehabilitative services focusing on criminogenic needs towards current or former gun offenders, as post-release service provision did not significantly differ between gun and non-gun offending former prisoners. Gun violence may be decreased if effective programs and services can be better targeted towards those with an increased risk of committing gun crimes.

Significance This research leverages data that are routinely gathered by, and available to, state departments of corrections to increase our understanding of factors that are predictive of gun violence and the timing of crime commission by former offenders.

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