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Northeastern’s Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research Receives State Grant to Study Recidivism Rates

BOSTON – May 27, 2008 – The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is funding a one-year study at Northeastern University’s Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research that will examine recidivism rates of inmates released from the Middlesex House of Correction at Billerica. Natasha Frost, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice, is the principal investigator of the study at Northeastern and will take a comprehensive look at a sample of inmates to determine how often and under what circumstances the inmates are re-convicted and re-incarcerated.

Also working with Professor Frost are two doctoral students at the College of Criminal Justice, Carlos Monteiro and Garrett Warfield, and one undergraduate student, Desmond Ryan, a double major in psychology and criminal justice. The study period began on May 12, 2008 and will conclude on May 12, 2009.

Working with officials at the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica, MA, the research team will randomly select groups of released inmates from three specific years – 1994, 2004 and 2007 – and establish their recidivism rates. They will have access to the criminal history reports and electronic intake and release records for all of the inmates involved in the study.

For the 1994 and 2004 groups, they will examine recidivism of the released inmates using a three-year window, establishing rates at six month, one year, two year and three year intervals; for the 2007 group, the research will be based on a one-year window of time at six month and one year intervals.

In addition, the research will include an analysis based on the type of offense, whether the offender was a first-time or a repeat offender, and whether or not the releases had been placed in treatment programs or not.

For the 2007 analysis, four groups of inmates will be sampled on the basis of the following categories:

  • Offenders with no prior incarcerations assigned to treatment unit
  • Offenders with at least one prior incarceration assigned to a treatment unit
  • Offenders with no prior incarcerations assigned to a general population unit
  • Offenders with at least one prior incarceration assigned to general population

“By developing a comprehensive analysis of recidivism rates among inmates across time, we can look at whether there are patterns developing and whether there are any important differences across groups,” said Frost, who focuses her research on punishment and social control. “The Middlesex House of Correction recently underwent a major structural renovation and change in correctional orientation. The analyses of these data could be beneficial in helping the Sheriff’s Office identify ways to make inmate re-entry more successful.”

For more information about this study or about Professor Frost, please contact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373-2802 or via email at

About the College of Criminal Justice

The College of Criminal Justice prepares the students for professional and research careers in criminal justice, criminology, and related fields by applying multidisciplinary and comparative social science to understand, predict, and explain crime and contribute to the development of public policy within urban communities. Using an active learning approach, the College seeks to develop its students intellectually and ethically, while providing them with a keen appreciation for the complexities of crime and for public and private efforts to make communities safer and ensure justice.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit

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