Examining recidivism among foreign-born jail inmates: does immigration status make a difference over the long term?

  • Wong J
  • Hickman L
  • Suttorp-Booth M
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The topic of ‘illegal’ immigration is currently the focus of intense ideological and policy debate in the United States. A common assertion is that those without legal immigration status are disproportionately involved in criminal offending relative to other foreign-born populations. The current study examines the long-term recidivism patterns of a group of male removable aliens compared to those foreign-born with legal authorisation to be present in the Unites States. The sample includes 1297 foreign-born males released from the Los Angeles County Jail during a 1-month period in 2002, and the follow-up period extends through 2011. Using three measures of rearrest and a rigorous counterfactual modelling approach, we find no statistically significant differences between the two groups in likelihood, frequency, or timing of first rearrest over 9 years. The findings do not lend support to arguments that removable aliens pose a disproportionate risk of repeat involvement in local criminal justice systems.

Author-supplied keywords

  • illegal immigrants
  • immigration
  • jail populations
  • propensity scores
  • recidivism
  • removable aliens

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  • Jennifer S. Wong

  • Laura J. Hickman

  • Marika Suttorp-Booth

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