A chronic offender is a person with multiple criminal convictions spread across multiple criminal events. Chronic offenders are responsible for a significant fraction of both property and violent crimes, according to the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor. Many states have sentencing guidelines that give chronic offenders lengthy sentences.
The term "recidivism" refers to criminals committing crimes after being released from prison. While the general recidivism rate is fairly high for most convicts, those with the highest rates are considered chronic offenders. Some states give the worst chronic offenders de facto life sentences if the judge determines that there is little chance that the convict can live a life without crime.