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Neighborhood Risk Factors for Recidivism: For Whom do they Matter?

NCJ Number
American Journal of Community Psychology Dated: 2020
Date Published

Based on a sample of 2,218 people on probation in San Francisco, California, this study drew on observational and secondary data to test the hypothesis that individual risk moderates the effect of neighborhood factors on recidivism.


Justice-involved people vary substantially in their risk of reoffending. To date, recidivism prediction and prevention efforts have largely focused on individual-level factors, such as antisocial traits. Although a growing body of research has examined the role of residential contexts in predicting reoffending, results have been equivocal. One reason for mixed results may be that an individual’s susceptibility to contextual influence depends upon his/her accumulated risk of reoffending.  Results from survival analyses indicate that individual risk interacts with neighborhood concentrated disadvantage and disorder. These factors increase recidivism among people relatively low in individual risk, but not those at higher risk. This is consistent with the disadvantage saturation perspective, raising the possibility that some people classified as low risk might not recidivate except for their placement in disadvantaged and disorderly neighborhoods. Ultimately, residential contexts matter for lower risk people and may be useful to consider in efforts to prevent recidivism. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020