Based on sanction and recidivism data alone, it looks like that the probability of recidivism is much higher after a prison sanction then after a fine. This article examines whether this is a result of the criminal sanctions themselves, or whether other factors are involved. To achieve this, data from three offense groups (theft, fraud, burglary) that can be punished with different criminal sanctions (prison, suspended prison sentence, or a fine) are examined. Based on a bivariate combination of criminal sanctions and recidivism, offenders who spend time in prison are more likely to reoffend than offenders who receive a suspended prison sentence or a fine. However, further analysis shows that when a range of other variables are taken considered, the apparent sanctioning effect does not arise from the nature of the criminal sanction, but rather from the offenders’ criminal past. Other factors have a far greater effect on reconviction. In particular, a person’s previous criminal history strongly influences the likelihood of recidivism.
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