Penal Outcomes

Recent work has examined the impact of life course events such as migration, employment, marriage and parenthood on offending patterns. The data assembled for this project will for the first time allow these issues to be examined over the long term, while also comparing the efficacy of different penal regimes, with an unprecedented level of detail. We will also explore whether gender was a significant factor in the chances of surviving incarceration/transportation, and remaking their lives post-release.

We will calculate reconviction rates/recidivism (one of the most pressing concerns for contemporary/modern criminal justice policy makers); test whether the children of offenders were more likely to offend themselves (intergenerational social transmission); identify structural factors acting at the individual level which supported desistence from crime; explore age-graded data to explore the journey from juvenile to adult offending profiles; sift the data for people who appeared as both complainants and defendants to explore offender/victim overlap; and explore the almost completely un-researched area of the `near-miss offender’. This group who appeared at the Old Bailey were clearly vulnerable to arrest and trial but were found not guilty. We will examine the impact of the trial process on speed of any subsequent conviction they collected.

By linking our digital criminal justice data to digitised economic/social data we will explore some new theories on the pace of change in society and its impact on offending/reconviction. The extent of economic change and employment opportunities (higher labour need eases ex-offenders back into employment) has been linked to offenders’ chances of rehabilitation. However, it may be that the key factor is actually the pace of economic change (Godfrey 2012). Fast-paced positive changes in a local environment (more jobs, better infrastructure, improvements in physical environment) may accelerate desistence trajectories in individual offenders. It has not been possible to establish a correlation between economic growth and desistence, partly because we have not had sufficient runs of reliable statistical data. However, this project will be able to take advantage of newly available digital resources spanning more than a century to approach this question for the first time.