Prison fence

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How likely is it that murderers will re-offend?

23rd August 2017

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Roderic Broadhurst is Professor of Criminology at RegNet. He is Director of the ANU Cybercrime Observatory which was established in 2012. The Observatory is a focal point for research on human factors and cybercrime. He has been researching cyber-security related topics since 2000 when he convened the 1st Asian Cybercrime Summit at the University of Hong Kong in 2001. His research includes studies of lethal violence, victimization, and longitudinal research applying risk analysis to problems of recidivism and dangerous offending. Current research focuses on crime and development, the recidivism of homicide offenders, cybercrime and organized and transnational crime. He has held research and teaching posts at the University of Western Australia, the University of Hong Kong, and Queensland University of Technology. He also served in the Western Australian Prison and Corrections Service (1974-1985) and public health department (1986-1989).

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Popular perceptions about the recidivism of homicide offenders are contradictory, varying from one extreme – that such offenders rarely commit further violent offences – to the opposite, where it is thought that they remain at a high risk of serious reoffending.

This latest research from RegNet’s Rod Broadhurst and Ross Maller from the Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics, draws on the records of 1088 persons arrested in Western Australia over the period 1984–2005 for domestic murders and other types of homicides (robbery and sexual murder), including attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, manslaughter (unintentional homicide) and (dangerous) driving causing death.

Prof Broadhurst and his collaborators estimate that those arrested for a murder and subsequently released have a probability of 0.66 of being arrested for another offence of any type (or a 66% likelihood of reoffending).

Those originally arrested for manslaughter or for (dangerous) driving causing death have a probability of 0.43 of being arrested for another offence of any type (or a 43% likelihood of reoffending).

Interestingly, of the 1088 persons, only 3 were subsequently arrested and charged with a homicide offence event in the follow-up period (which was up to 22 years).

These findings should be of interest to courts and correctional agencies in assessing risk at various stages of the administration of criminal justice.

You can access the publication in full on the Sage website.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet