I've been listening to C-SPAN this morning, it's been open phones, and one of the topics that keeps coming up when the wackaloons rant about President Obama is his decision to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo, Cuba. People are real freaked out about the fact that something like 12% of the released prisoners go back to their home countries and engage in jihad.
Well, I used to teach sociology so did a fair amount of reading in deviance and criminology, and 12% struck me as being an incredibly low recidivism rate. If the prisoners at Gitmo really were as hard core as the wackaloons insist they are, I'd expect the numbers of jihadis to be more like 50 or 60%. For comparison purposes here's a bar graph from the U.S. Department of Justice: As you can see, the trends were not good. At the rate U.S. prisons were going 15 years ago, in a few more years we should be to the point where recidivism is pushing 100%. Unfortunately, the quick Google search I did couldn't find more recent data. Still, I think it's pretty clear why we don't want anyone from Gitmo in a U.S. prison. We'd actually be better off just turning them all loose now, no hearings or anything. Right now a little over 1 out 10 detainees released goes back to engaging in terroristic activities; if we dump them into U.S. prisons to await trial we can look forward to that rate climbing considerably.
[I am, of course, being sarcastic. The real message embedded in the difference in the recidivism rates is that most of the detainees aren't recidivists because they weren't terrorists to begin with.]