TRENDS, TRAITS, AND OBSERVATIONS OF ALL OFFENDERS
Previous studies have found that an offender’s criminal past is a compelling indicator of future
recidivism. These findings are validated by the observations of Wisconsin offenders analyzed
for this report. Of adult offenders sentenced to DOC multiple times, those with 1,2,3,4, and 5
prior offenses commit another offense 39%, 50%, 55%, 57%, and 58% of the time respectively.
This re-offending percentage continues to increase with the number of priors.
Also consistent with previous studies, the Wisconsin statistics documented herein demonstrate
that younger offenders recidivate at a rate much higher than older offenders
. Roughly half of all
offenses committed by DOC sentenced recidivists were ages 18 through 23. Other Wisconsin
findings consistent with previous studies include the recidivism rates for gender and race. As
expected, male recidivists in Wisconsin re-offended and are re-sentenced to DOC more often
than females (38% versus 27%). American Indian and Black offenders topped the list of
percent recidivating, followed by Hispanics, Whites, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
offender groups results in the identification of traits unique to those offender groups. For
example, the traits of robbers include:
• Robbers commit more offenses per offender
than other offenders.
• Offenses committed by robbers are in general more severe
than other offenders (70%
felonies for robbers versus 35% felonies for other offenders).
• Robbers recidivate at a much higher rate
than other offenders (65% versus 35%).
• Sentencing robbers may require a longer term view since robbers have criminal careers
that span a long period of time.
• Robbers are younger than other offenders. Recidivistic robbers are younger than
robbers who do not recidivate.
• There is no distinguishable point at which robbers “age out.”
• The recidivism rate of female robbers is much higher than other female offenders (55%
• Studies of the criminal histories of robbers suggest that there are in some cases
identifiable progressions of offenses from retail theft to theft to burglary to robbery.