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Why do Habitual Offenders Keep Reoffending? (Pt 1)

A picture of a fence cut open with a sunrise in the background, symbolizing a path to freedom and away from incarceration.
Surely, if there was a way out of the revolving door in Michigan’s prison’s people would choose it, wouldn’t they? And yet they keep going back in? Why?

It seems like a simple question – why would a person choose to keep committing crimes? Especially if they keep being caught and getting into trouble? Surely it makes sense just to follow the law and not make the kind of choices that get you into trouble with the courts, right? Surely no one wants to be considered a habitual offender? Well, if only it were that simple…

Ask any expert on criminal justice, and they’ll likely tell you that the causes of recidivism are complex, and likely due to a combination of personal, sociological, economic, and lifestyle factors. Obviously, that’s a lot of factors and it doesn’t begin to answer the question. So let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why some people with a criminal history keep reoffending, and what could be done to address that issue in Michigan.

Why habitual offenders keep reoffending:

  • The criminal history itself:

This is one of the most common reasons why people continue to reoffend – the fact that their criminal history makes it very difficult for them to get into a good school, get a good job, or be considered productive members of society. When someone can’t find gainful employment they sometimes feel as if the only way they can earn a living is through criminal activities, like producing and selling drugs, or prostitution. The more they get ‘busted’ for these activities and rack up charges on their rap sheet, the less likely they are to get a decent job in the future, which then perpetuates the cycle. A habitual offender often fails to consider that it’s possible to overcome obstacles including their past bad behavior. It’s a choice. 

  • Exposure to other people with criminal histories:

People who are convicted of repeat crimes are usually sentenced to spend time in jail or prison. This means they are living for extended periods of time with other people who have been convicted of crimes. In settings like this, people often either fight with one another, which can result in more charges, or exchange information with other convicted criminals that allows for future networking. This in turn creates wider opportunities for pursuing criminal behaviors in the future, which can lead to more charges down the road. Ie: habitual offender status. Plenty of inmates choose to break the cycle and others choose to perpetuate it. 

  • Mental health concerns:

Neither jail or prison is a place that’s conducive to maintaining good mental health or addressing mental health problems. Countless studies have shown that people with mental health problems behind bars (which accounts for a significant portion of the Michigan prison population according to current stats) do not receive the help and treatment they need. This usually aggravates existing mental health conditions, making it harder for those people to function, and often exacerbating their mental health concerns. Aggravated mental health issues can make it difficult to hold down a traditional job, and can also impair decision-making skills. This problem is not disputed by the experts. Michigan needs to throw more money at housing and treating those with mental illness. 

The best option is to avoid a conviction!

As we’ve mentioned before, being convicted of a crime is a terrible experience and can have an impact on the rest of your life in countless ways (even more so if you’re considered a habitual offender!) So the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your future is to avoid a conviction whenever possible. And the way to do that is to get yourself a great criminal defense attorney, which is where we come in. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our aggressive criminal defense attorneys have spent decades aggressively defending our Michigan clients against all kinds of allegations. If you’ve been accused of a crime and you need to protect yourself against allegations, call 866 766 5245 today. And don’t forget to join us next time for a look at some potential solutions to this problem.

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