UA-Little Rock professors find a community’s physical appearance has a link to recidivism

It’s the care put into the community that makes a difference in ensuring people who’ve been released from prison, don’t go back, according to researchers at UA-Little Rock.
Michael Craw and Tusty ten Bensel are associate professors at UA-Little Rock, and wanted to know more about the Capitol City. Specifically, a neighborhood’s connection to recidivism rates. Do neighborhood associations and homeowners associations make a difference, do they have an effect on their communities? Craw asked. This is where I live,” ten Bensel said. “This is where I teach. So, I wanted to know what was going on in my community. After two years of researching crime rates, released offender’s whereabouts, and community involvement, their results were, according to ten Bensel, surprising.
Neighborhood disorder is what impacted recidivism rates,” ten Bensel said. “Not neighborhood disadvantage and not crime itself. Neighborhood disorder, meaning, the lack of involvement in physically improving a part of a community, has a direct impact on recidivism, according to their research. Things like abandoned housing, un-mowed lawns, property crime, those kind of things do have an effect, Craw said. In fact, over half of the people who are released from prison, who end up going back to those types of neighborhoods, will most likely go back to prison within the next five years.
But both Craw and ten Bensel say, more community involvement, like a homeowner’s association, makes a difference. You put time in organizing and participating in that way, it matters, Craw said. The more investment you have, the more organization you have in these communities, the less likely these individuals will go back to prison, said ten Bensel. Now the city has helped in having more community involvement. They’ve set up neighborhood resource officers across the city to encourage things like neighborhood associations.
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