Leah Jacobs and Jennifer L. Skeem's study on this topic is forthcoming in American Journal of Community Psychology and available here.
Pre-print available behind paywall here.
Justice-involved people vary substantially in their risk of reoffending. To date, recidivism prediction and prevention efforts have largely focused on individual-level factors like antisocial traits. Although a growing body of research has examined the role of residential contexts in predicting reoffending, results have been equivocal. One reason for mixed results may be that an individual’s susceptibility to contextual influence depends upon his or her accumulated risk of reoffending. Based on a sample of 2,218 people on probation in San Francisco, California, this study draws on observational and secondary data to test the hypothesis that individual risk moderates the effect of neighborhood factors on recidivism. Results from survival analyses indicate that individual risk interacts with neighborhood concentrated disadvantage and disorder—these factors increase recidivism among people relatively low in individual risk, but not those at higher risk. This is consistent with the disadvantage saturation perspective, raising the possibility that some people classified as low risk might not recidivate but for placement in disadvantaged and disorderly neighborhoods. Ultimately, residential contexts “matter” for lower risk people and may be useful to consider in efforts to prevent recidivism.
Keywords: risk assessment, recidivism, disadvantage saturation, neighborhood effects, disadvantage, disorder