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"relapsed criminal," 1863, from French récidiviste, from récidiver "to fall back, relapse," from Medieval Latin recidivare "to relapse into sin," from Latin recidivus "falling back," from recidere "fall back," from re- "back, again" (see re-) + comb. form of cadere "to fall" (see case (n.)). Recidivation in the spiritual sense is attested from early 15c., was very common 17c.
recidivism re·cid·i·vism (rĭ-sĭd'ə-vĭz'əm)
A tendency to lapse into a previous pattern of behavior, especially a pattern of criminal habits.
The relapse of a disease or symptom. Also called recidivation.
recidivist re·cid·i·vist (rĭ-sĭd'ə-vĭst)
A person who relapses, especially by returning to criminal behavior.
tendency toward chronic criminal behaviour leading to numerous arrests and re-imprisonment. Studies of the yearly intake of prisons, reformatories, and jails in the United States and Europe show that from one-half to two-thirds of those imprisoned have served previous sentences in the same or in other institutions. The conclusion is that the criminal population is made up largely of those for whom criminal behaviour has become habitual; moreover, penal institutions appear to do little to change their basic behaviour patterns