Graduation Year

Fall 2010

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Joseph Bessette


Studies in the past few years have found that California has the highest recidivism rate in the nation. Until just a few decades ago, many did not believe that the rate of recidivism could be decreased for Robert Martinson’s 1974 study stated that “nothing worked” when trying to rehabilitate criminals. However, a renewed interest has proven that criminals can be rehabilitated. Thus, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), as well as various independent researchers have begun to study the effects of programming on inmates. This thesis evaluates various California in-prison and parole programs in order to determine if recidivism can be reduced, and if it can, how? Researching a CDCR study, as well as other independent studies, it can be concluded that California can reduce its recidivism rates and that there are various principles that will help to accomplish this. However, while various evaluated programs proved successful one cannot accurately determine how successful the programs are at reducing recidivism due to the problem posed by the selection effect. Therefore, while recidivism can be reduced and it appears that specific programs and principles will prove valuable in accomplishing this goal, more research should be conducted in order to determine whether the programs are successful or whether the success is due to the inmates enrolled.