Recidivism and Crowding as Determinants of Spatial Expansion in Correctional Architecture: A Translog Analysis of the Cases of Nigeria and New York

C. Chuba Jon-Nwakalo


This paper dealt with the empirical analysis of the vicious cyclical relationship which exists between the chronic problem of recidivism and the apparent intractable problem of crowding in correctional facilities. It was a study on  how the variable,  recidivism, feeds into the problem of Crowding which leads in turn to increased demand for more  space in correctional facilities and engenders increased design and construction activity with considerable cost implications.The negative effects of recidivism and crowding in correctional facilities are palpable and often culminate in inmate disturbances in these facilities. These disturbances invariably lead policy makers to search for solutions. These solutions would necessarily include actions that are designed to ameliorate crowding and recidivism. A popular approach that seems to be the preferred panacea is the spatial expansion program that involves design and construction of new correctional facilities and the rehabilitation of existing ones. The principal schools of thought in penology have gestated from Retributivism to Utilitarianism. This trend has meant that prison design and construction activities have followed the transition .from fulfilling the Retributivist policy goals to fulfilling the Utilitarian policy goals.   Whereas Retributivism advocates punishment of the offender for the sake of punishment itself, Utilitarianism advocates rehabilitation of the offender while he is incarcerated. While Retributivists see punishment as an end in itself, utilitarians see it as a means to an end.   This basic difference between these two schools of thought   has influenced correctional policies including policies determining spatial expansion of correctional facilities.The method of analysis involves development of a transcendental logarithmic (TRANSLOG) model. The model was estimated using Ordinary Least Squares method, with crowding and recidivism as the dependent variables and capital construction, alternatives to incarceration expenditures, crime rates, rehabilitation, unemployment, age, and education as independent variables.The results of the study show that alternatives to incarceration are more effective in reducing crowding in correctional facilities than capital construction programs. The results also show that crime rates are positive determinants of crowding. However, while rehabilitation programs are negative determinants of recidivism in New York, they constitute positive determinants of recidivism in Nigeria.

Keywords: Design, Construction, Crowding, Recidivism, Correctional Architecture

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