Offender Profile and Recidivism among Domestic Violence Offenders in Ontario

5. Recidivism in Domestic Violence

5. Recidivism in Domestic Violence

Analysis was also undertaken to examine what factors may influence recidivism for the sample of 1,000 offenders who were convicted of a domestic violence offence in 2001. Further analysis was also done to compare those factors between the two court types. In this section, overall variables that influence recidivism will be presented. As mentioned earlier, one-in-three (32%) offenders (N=317) were reconvicted of a criminal offence following the index domestic violence conviction.

5.1 Offender Characteristics

Table 13 shows that gender and age appeared to play a statistically significant role in recidivism. Male offenders were more likely than female offenders to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (34% versus 19%). Younger offenders (i.e., those aged 18 to 34 years old) were more likely than any other age group to be reconvicted of a criminal offence following the index domestic violence conviction. This was also reflected in the lower median age for reconvicted offenders (33 years) compared to those who were not reconvicted (36 years).

Table 13: Gender and Age by Reconviction Status, 2001

5.2 Criminal History and Recidivism

Table 14 presents data on the relationship between criminal history and recidivism. All variables related to the offender's criminal history appear to be statistically significant in relation to recidivism. Offenders who were convicted of a criminal offence prior to the index domestic violence conviction were almost four times more likely than offenders who had no prior conviction to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (41% versus 11% respectively).

In terms of seriousness of prior conviction, the more serious the prior conviction, the more likely offenders were to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. For example, offenders convicted of a prior offence involving no violence offence were less likely than offenders convicted of serious violence to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (34% versus 51% respectively).

Similarly, also as shown in Table 14, the more serious the prior sentence, the more likely offenders were to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. Offenders who received a prison sentence for a prior conviction were twice as likely as offenders sentenced to probation to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (48% versus 24% respectively).

Table 14: Prior Conviction Status, Seriousness Index, Most Serious Prior Conviction and Most Serious Sentence by Reconviction Status, 2001

5.3 Index Domestic Violence Conviction and Recidivism

Table 15 presents data on the relationship between the index domestic violence conviction and recidivism. Interestingly, the relationship between these variables is not as significant as the relationship between criminal history and recidivism. The seriousness of the index domestic violence conviction does not appear to play a statistically significant role in the likelihood of recidivism when isolating the Seriousness Index variable. However, individuals convicted of serious violence were more likely than individuals convicted of threatening violence to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (33% versus 25%).

The sentence received for the index domestic violence conviction, however, does appear to play a statistically significant role in the likelihood of recidivism. As shown in Table 15, individuals who received a prison sentence were twice as likely as individuals who were sentenced to probation to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (45% versus 19% respectively).

Table 15: Seriousness Index, Most Serious Index Domestic Violence Conviction and Most Serious Sentence by Reconviction Status, 2001

5.4 Sentence Length and Recidivism

Table 16 presents data on prison and probation sentence length and its relationship with recidivism. Prison sentence length appears to play a statistically significant role in the likelihood of recidivism. However, the data shows that the shorter the sentence, the more likely an offender is to be reconvicted: if the prison sentence was shorter than 3 months, the offender was more likely to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. For example, offenders who received a prison sentence of 1 to 3 months were more likely than offenders who received a prison sentence of 6 to 12 months to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction (59% versus 46% respectively).

The trend for probation sentence length was the opposite: the longer the probation sentence, the more likely offenders were to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. For instance, offenders who received a probation sentence of over 24 months were almost twice as likely as offenders who received a probation sentence of 6 to 12 months to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence (33% versus 19% respectively). Probation sentence length, however, does not appear to play a statistically significant role in the likelihood of recidivism.

Table 16: Prison/Probation Sentence Length by Reconviction Status, 2001

5.5 History of Convictions and Charges without Convictions and Recidivism

Table 17 presents data on offender's convictions history and charging history. Both variables appear to play a statistically significant role in the likelihood of recidivism. In sum, the more convictions offenders received throughout their lifetime, the more likely they were to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. For example, offenders who had over 10 lifetime convictions were five times more likely than offenders who only had 2 lifetime convictions to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence offence (64% versus 12% respectively).

Similarly, the more charges laid (without convictions) on offenders throughout their lifetime, the more likely they were to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence conviction. For example, offenders who had over 10 charges laid in their lifetime (without convictions) were almost four times more likely than offenders who had no charges laid in their lifetime (without convictions) to be reconvicted following the index domestic violence offence (65% versus 17% respectively).

Table 17: Total Number of Lifetime Convictions and Total Number of Charges Laid in Lifetime Without Convictions by Reconviction Status, 2001

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