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Publication: Gender & Behaviour
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 93409
ISSN: 15969231
Journal code: GNBV


The incidence of crimes committed under the influence of alcohol is rising steadily, most violent crimes were thought to have involved alcohol. The British Medical Association reported that between 60 and 70 percent of all murders, 75% of stabbings ,70% of beatings, and 50% of fights and domestic assaults were committed by those under the influence of alcohol (Alcohol Crime,2010) Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are implicated in the crimes and incarceration of 80 percent- some 1.4 million- of the 1.7 million men and women behind bars in America. (Behind bars, 1998) . In most studies like that of Quimet and LeBlanc (1996), Rice and Harris (1995) many of the offenders who repeatedly committed crimes had a history of drug use. The more chronic and serious the substance abuse problem, the more likely the person will reoffend and have an extensive criminal record

Many of the crime committed have their roots in alcohol and drug Glick,(1995) posited that more than half of all murderers and homicides are believed to be intoxicated during criminal acts. While about one-quarter of all suicides occur when the person is using alcohol. Alcohol is also frequently associated with the commission of many other criminal acts. Glick (1995) also reported previous studies that found out that four out of every ten assaults in the United States occur while the offender is intoxicated; almost half of all men arrested for rape were found to have a blood alcohol level of 10 or higher; and alcohol is involved in at least 29 percent of all other sex crimes. He concluded that there is a strong relationship between drug and alcohol abuse and violent and criminal behaviour. Loza, (1993) found relationship between substance abuse and crime. Also, Gendreua et al (1996) found a correlation between substance abuse and recidivism. Myner, Santman, Gordon 8c Permutter (1998) in their studies found that alcohol and drug abuse predict recidivism and they are major contributor to criminal behaviour. A report by American Bureau of Justice Statistics (1993), documented that 50% of prison inmates had used illegal drugs in the month before their offence 30% were under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime. Ge Donnellan and Wenk (2001) argued that adolescents who smoke, drink and use illicit drugs are more likely to commit delinquent acts compared to those who do not smoke, drink or use illicit drugs.

Martin, Bryant and Fitzgerald (2001) found in a sample of 27, 414 arrested that almost 95% of them reported that they have tried alcohol at some point during their lives; approximately 70% of the sample had also consumed alcohol 72 hours prior to their arrest and almost all reported the use of alcohol at the time of their offences. The link between alcohol and crime is not different in Nigeria. It is a common experience that criminals are always tiigh' as result of alcohol and drugs abuse during most of their criminal activities. Also during visits to some of the prisons in Nigeria, the researchers found that this trend of alcohol and drug abuse is still sustained. The essence of alcohol and drug abuse during crime is to help the criminals act without sentiment and human kindness. (Chenube,2009) Quimet and LeBlanc (1996) opined that the more chronic and serious the substance abuse problem the more likely the criminal will reoffend and have an extensive criminal record. Rice and Harris (1995) discovered in their study an association between alcohol abuse and violent recidivism.

In sum, empirical research has consistently shown a relationship between alcohol use and aggressive behaviour (Meneses, 2003). Criminal lifestyle is achieved on the influence of alcohol and drug. The aim of this study therefore was to find out the effect of alcohol on: the recidivism risk levels, number of times convicted/ imprisoned and nature of offence of prison inmates in Nigeria. The dearth of literature on alcohol /substance abuse and recidivism in Nigeria necessitated this study.



The target population for this study consisted of all male prison inmates in Nigeria. . The method used in sample selection for this study is the purposive sampling technique.. The first stage was the selection of five states and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). The states were selected based on their strategic locations in Nigeria and their high crime rate. The five states are Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Delta, Lagos and Abuja (the Federal Capital). The second stage was the selection of one prison from each of the six states under study. The third stage was the selection of respondents for the study through purposive sampling technique. A total of 200 respondents were drawn from each of the prisons. This gave a grand total of 1,200 as the sample size of the study. Specifically, the total sample size of 1200 represents 11.30% of the total population of 10,535 in the six states. Furthermore, the total of 200 respondents in each state represents 9.17% in Kaduna, 8.09% in Kano, 23.39% Abuja, 15.19% Warri, 12.34% Enugu and 5.39, Lagos of the total inmates in their respective states.


Self Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ) by Loza (2005) was used to collect data for this study SAQ is an empirically based, theoretically and rationally derived assessment instrument designed to assess the risk of violent and general recidivism. The instrument helps to tease out inmates that will likely reoffend(recidivate) The instrument is divided into two sections i.e. A and B. Section A deals with the personal data of the respondents, i.e. the demographic data such as age, marital status , number of times convicted / imprisoned and nature of offence. Section B contains 72 items comprising seven subscales. The subscales include: Criminal tendencies, antisocial personality problems, conduct problems, criminal history, alcohol/ drug abuse, antisocial associates and anger SAQ has been assessed for face validity, construct and concurrent validity, as well as predictive validity in multiple samples (Loza, 2005). The instrument was validated for this study using the content validity SAQ's reliability has been assessed by examining the internal consistency, the Standard Error of Measurement, and test-retest correlations. To establish the internal consistency, Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .91 was calculated, for the Standard Error of Measurement, 3.25 were obtained for the SEM values while . 92 were obtained for the test-rest reliability. These results are considered to be high enough to conclude that the instrument was reliable.


The questionnaires were administered by the research team and two trained research assistants. The research assistants were trained with the test manual on how to effectively administer the questionnaire The researchers obtained permission from the Prison State Command Headquarters The research team were assisted by the Prison official particularly the welfare officers who were intimated on the purpose and focus of the study.

Analysis and Results

One thousand two hundred (1200) male prison inmates were used for this study. Of these, 397 (33.1%) were below age 20, 654 (54.5%) were in the age bracket of 21-40, while 148 (12.4%) were in the age bracket of 41-70; 670 (55.8%) were single, 465 (38.8%) were married, while 65 (5.4%) were widowed. The analysis measured the extent to which each of the independent variables (recidivism, number of times convicted/ imprisoned, and nature of offence) predicted the dependent variable (alcohol/ substance abuse). The relative contributions of the variables were shown in each case. Data were analyzed using regression analysis at 0.05 alpha levels

Recidivism Risk Level Status of Inmates

The chart (fig 1) displays result for the recidivism risk level status of the male prison inmates under four categories. There are about 63.58% of prison inmates at high/moderate recidivism risk level, 24.17% at low/moderate recidivism risk level, 7.00% at low recidivism risk level, and only 5.25% at high recidivism risk level. This implies that at least six in every ten male prison inmate there is a high/ moderate recidivism risk level This shows that even if an inmate is a first time offender there is the likelihood that he would re-offend (recidivate).

The alcohol/substance abuse scale result of the study showed that 47.67% of the inmates had elevated score, that means almost half of the inmates abuse alcohol/ substance.

Effect of Alcohol/ substance abuse on Recidivism risk level

Table 1 shows the result of the simple regression analysis for the effect of alcohol/ substance abuse on the recidivism risk level of male inmates. The analysis shows that Alcohol/ Drug abuse status of inmates yielded a co-efficient of 2.055 and a t-statistic of 76.14, which is significant at p<0.05 (p=0.000). This finding implies that the Alcohol/ Drug abuse level of inmates has significant effect on their recidivism risk level; this also suggests that level of recidivism can be predetermined by the level of alcohol/ substance abuse. Furthermore, an R-Sq (Adjusted) of 0.391 implies that about 39.1% of the change in recidivism level of one inmate to another is due to their level of alcohol/ substance abuse.

Effect of Alcohol/ substance abuse on Number of times convicted/ imprisoned

The results in table 2 shows the simple regression analysis for the effect of alcohol/ substance abuse on the number of times an inmate is Convicted/ Imprisoned. The analysis shows that Alcohol/ Substance abuse status of inmates yielded a co-efficient of 1.321 and a t-statistic of 34.942, which is significant at p<0.05 (p=0.000). This finding implies that the Alcohol/Drug abuse level of inmates has significant effect on their rate of conviction/ imprisonment. This finding does not necessarily imply that conviction/ imprisonment is the immediate consequence of Alcohol/ Substance abuse. However, it suggests that the rate of conviction/ imprisonment of an inmate can be regulated by the level of alcohol/ substance abuse.

Furthermore, an R-Sq (Adjusted) of 0.036 implies that the level of alcohol/ substance abuse accounts for only 3.6% of the variation in the rate of conviction/ imprisonment of one inmate to another.

Effect of Alcohol/substance abuse on Nature of offence committed

The result in table 3 shows the simple regression analysis for the effect of alcohol/ substance abuse on the Nature of offence committed by an inmate. The analysis shows that Alcohol/ Substance abuse status of inmates yielded a co-efficient of 0.003 and a t-statistic of 0.138, which is not significant at p>0.05 (p=0.890). This finding implies that the Nature of offence committed by an inmate is independent of the level of abuse of Alcohol/ Substance by an inmate.

Discussion and Recommendation

The abuse of alcohol has varying unpleasant consequences for those involved in the act. The findings in this study shows its resultant effect on recidivism, and rate of conviction/ imprisonment, alcohol/ substance abuse will evidently lead to higher recidivism risk, and increased conviction /imprisonment rate. The result of the study showed no significant effect of alcohol on the Nature of offence committed by inmates.

The recidivism risk level of prison inmates in this study is on the high side; the implication is that most of the inmates in the prison in Nigeria will likely recidivate. (63.58% of prison inmates at high/moderate recidivism risk level, and, 5.25% at high recidivism risk level.) One of the likely reason for this criminal tendency is alcohol and drug use, which was rated as the highest predictor of recidivism in a similar study(Chenube,2009) Substance use is tightly associated with recidivism. The more prior convictions an individual has, the more likely that individual is a drug abuser. This study demonstrates that criminal recidivism is very much a function of drug and alcohol abuse. The more often an individual is imprisoned, the likelier that inmate is to be a drug or alcohol addict or abuser. The findings of this study collaborate that of Glick (1995) Lightfoot and Hodgon (1988); Gendreau et al (1996); Loza (2005) who found relationship between substance abuse and crime

Based on the findings of this study it is recommended that the Nigerian Prison Service should step up on treatment for the addicted. Presently in the prisons in Nigeria there is no treatment for drug and alcohol addicts, after serving their terms they are released back to the society where they came from and this is dangerous and a major predictor of recidivism .American Behind the Bar report (1998) summed this lack of treatment as tantamount to visiting criminals on society because releasing drug-addicted inmates without treatment helps maintain the market for illegal drugs and supports drug dealers. The danger of releasing offenders without treating them also helps in sustaining criminal culture and tendencies .This criminal culture is not healthy for the safety of the society and the overall economic wellbeing of the nation. The result indicated that more than half of the inmates that participated in this study are young people in their useful years, continual incarceration is economic wastages .These young people can be treated and empowered to make their economic contribution to the society.

The issue of alcohol /substance abuse should interest relevant stakeholders in Nigeria, it should go beyond arrest and imprisonment; what packages and programmes are in place to salvage these useful young people roasting in our prisons?. There is the need for the Nigerian Prisons Service to come up with comprehensive approaches using a range of strategies that will address the multiple causes and dimensions of alcohol problems. These approaches should include educational, environmental, psychological and pharmacological strategies.


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Author affiliation:

Olufunke Chenube, 2Simeon Dosumu &2 Mary Omomoyesan &3Florence Omumu

1 Novena University, Ogume, Delta State, Nigeria.

2Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos

3College of Education, Agbor Delta State Nigeria

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