Neighborhood Risk Factors for Recidivism: For Whom Do They Matter?

The American Journal of Community Psychology, Forthcoming

42 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2020

See all articles by Leah Jacobs

Leah Jacobs

University of Pittsburgh

Jennifer L. Skeem

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: August 21, 2020


Justice-involved people vary substantially in their risk of re-offending. To date, recidivism prediction and prevention efforts have largely focused on individual-level factors like antisocial traits. Although a growing body of research has examined the role of residential contexts in predicting re-offending, results have been equivocal. One reason for mixed results may be that an individual’s susceptibility to contextual influence depends upon his or her accumulated risk of re-offending. Based on a sample of 2,218 people on probation in San Francisco, California, this study draws on observational and secondary data to test the hypothesis that individual risk moderates the effect of neighborhood factors on recidivism. Results from survival analyses indicate that individual risk interacts with neighborhood concentrated disadvantage and disorder — these factors increase recidivism among people relatively low in individual risk, but not those at higher risk. This is consistent with the disadvantage saturation perspective, raising the possibility that some people classified as low risk might not recidivate but for placement in disadvantaged and disorderly neighborhoods. Ultimately, residential contexts “matter” for lower risk people and may be useful to consider in efforts to prevent recidivism.

Keywords: risk assessment, recidivism, disadvantage saturation, neighborhood effects, disadvantage, disorder

Suggested Citation

Jacobs, Leah and Skeem, Jennifer L., Neighborhood Risk Factors for Recidivism: For Whom Do They Matter? (August 21, 2020). The American Journal of Community Psychology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Leah Jacobs

University of Pittsburgh

200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Jennifer L. Skeem (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

120 Haviland Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7400
United States

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