Many Americans simply accept that jail time or a prison sentence can be used as a correctional device. Someone commits a crime, goes to jail, learns the error of their ways, and comes out as a “new” person who will never repeat their mistakes. Jail acts as a deterrent to crime and helps people reform. 

But does it actually work that way? A recent study claims that it definitely does not. Instead, for many offenders, it is just part of a cycle. They get arrested, serve time, get out and then merely get arrested again — often for similar offenses or the exact same thing. 

Why does this happen? You just have to look at the individuals who get caught up in this cycle. They tend to be:

  • Less-educated 
  • Low-income
  • Unemployed
  • Non-violent offenders

For instance, someone who gets arrested for drug possession while partying in high school may never get their GED. When they get out of jail, they can’t find a job because most other applicants are more qualified. They can’t apply to college without a GED. As a result, they start selling drugs to make money, and they get arrested again. 

From the outside, it’s easy for people to shake their heads and wonder why someone could make a similar mistake twice, but really looking at the situation shows how desperate and problematic it can become. If the person feels like they have no other choices and no way to change their life, jail time isn’t going to change them. It’s unrealistic to expect it to, even though many people do. 

This is just one reason why it is so important for those facing criminal charges to know about all of the options they have.