It Is Happening Again: Digital criminal justice archives as building blocks for the study of recidivism
Project funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO).
2020-12-15 --- 2023-03-15
Project # B2/202/P2/IIHA
Since 2021, this project is managed at the NICC by the Recidivism and Criminal Careers Unit (CReCC).
The National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology has access to a wealth of historical data from two criminal justice databases: the Central Criminal Record (over the 1995-2020 period) and the SIDIS-Greffe penitentiary database (over the 1974-2014 period) (hereafter: 'the Criminal Justice Databases'). Unfortunately, the optimal exploitation and valorisation of this data is made difficult due to lack of documentation on, and standardization of, the records.
The project aims to adress societal questions by analysing these historical data. To achieve this, a computer platform will be developed to make this data available for research. Thanks to this platform the potential for a recidivism monitor will be studied, including (year-based) cohorts of recidivism and an exploration of the possibility to systematically map criminal careers.
The research has four main objectives.
1. Documenting the Criminal Justice Databases
Expanding on a past project (De Blander et al., 2019), this project will thoroughly document the functions, content, structure, limitations, and potential of the Criminal Justice Databases. An important aspect of this research will be to study the possibility of establishing reliable links between these two databases.
2. Developing an integrated historical database
An integrated database will be developed to store a standardized version of historical records obtained from the Criminal Justice Databases. The goal of this integrated database is to make the datasets that are stored as separate files available within a common system that will allow easy access for statistics production and research.
3. Analyses of recidivism and criminal careers
Based on the data made available through the integrated historical database, two main analyses will be conducted. A first analysis will concern trajectories and recidivism on year-based cohorts based on conviction data and detention data. Furthermore, criminal careers based on specific selection criteria will also be analysed, with the advantage of being able to select deceased offenders whose criminal careers has been terminated. These results will provide an immediate benefit for policy-makers and scientists.
4. Studying the feasibility of a recidivism module
Informed by the results from the previous steps and previous research (particularly Robert & Maes, 2012, Mine et al., 2015; Maes & Mine, 2016), the feasibility of developing a computer-based module aimed at uncovering and monitoring recidivism will be studied. The feasibility study will include collaborations with software developers as well as with the staff currently managing the two databases.
1) Qualitative methods: literature study, document analysis related to the construction of the Criminal Justice Databases;
2) Computer development (programming) for an integrated historical database;
3) Quantitative methods: statistical analysis of recidivism and criminal careers (descriptive analyses; survival analyses; Group-based trajectory modelling);
4) Analysis of the requirements for an implementation of a module on recidivism (IT, database management).
1) Documentation on two Criminal Justice Databases;
2) An integrated historical database that will be used after the project is finished;
3) Recidivism statistics for several year-based cohorts;
4) Criminal career information about offenders that are no longer active (deceased);
5) A feasibility study for a recidivism monitoring module.
- English : https://www.belspo.be/belspo/brain2-be/projects/IIHA_E.pdf
- French : https://www.belspo.be/belspo/brain2-be/projects/IIHA_F.pdf
- Dutch : https://www.belspo.be/belspo/brain2-be/projects/IIHA_N.pdf
2. Second Follow-up committee meeting
Date: 20 October 2022
1. IIHA project kickoff meeting
Date: 7 September 2021
5. Moniteur de la récidive
Huynen, P. (2022). Moniteur de la récidive. Talk given on 20 October 2022 at the second follow-up committee meeting of the IIHA project, in Brussels, Belgium. Organization: NICC.
4. The development of an Integrated Historical Database to study Criminal Careers and Recidivism
Jeuniaux, P., Mine, B., Maes, E., & Robert, L. (2022). The development of an Integrated Historical Database to study Criminal Careers and Recidivism. Talk given on 20 October 2022 at the second follow-up committee meeting of the IIHA project, in Brussels, Belgium. Organization: NICC.
3. Constructing a graph-based Integrated Historical Database (IHD) to study Recidivism and Criminal Careers
Jeuniaux, P., Mine, B., Maes, E., Robert, L. & Geudens, T. (2022). Constructing a graph-based Integrated Historical Database (IHD) to study Recidivism and Criminal Careers. Talk given on 23 September 2022 at the 22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, in Málaga, Spain. Organization: Universidad de Málaga.
2. Recidive bij veroordeelden voor terrorisme: Een overlevingsduuranalyse gebaseerd op het Belgisch Centraal Strafregister
Sharief, S. (Juni 2022). Recidive bij veroordeelden voor terrorisme: Een overlevingsduuranalyse gebaseerd op het Belgisch Centraal Strafregister, NVC, Leiden.
1. IIHA project kickoff meeting presentation
Jeuniaux, P., Mine, B., Robert, L., & Maes, E. (7 September 2021). It is happening again (IIHA). Digital criminal justice archives as building blocks for the study of recidivism. Organization: NICC-INCC. Brussels.