Thursday, March 11, 2010

20 Year Study Finds 80% Recidivism Rate

This new study validates what most correctional and law enforcement professionals already know…almost everyone who goes to prison eventually comes back.

It is reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and one striking piece of data, is that the authors—whose treatment program only has a 60% recidivism rate—claim that as success, indicative of the dismal state of traditional rehabilitation efforts.

An excerpt from the Commercial Appeal story.

“Jeff Smith had been free of drugs for four years. Two of those years were during a stay at the Shelby County Correction Center and two were while working at the Salvation Army after his release from jail.

“It was at the Salvation Army that Smith, 54, says he felt "a sense of purpose for the first time in years." He was doing what he says he loves best -- working as a carpenter and furniture refinisher. And he counseled other former inmates to try to keep them from repeating their mistakes.

“Smith wishes he had followed his own advice. "I was tempted by the devil, and I failed," he says. Carpentry, counseling and church services at the Salvation Army weren't enough to break the "revolving-door" cycle that means, like Smith, up to 94 percent of former inmates will be rearrested and up to 81 percent will wind up behind bars again.….

“A 20-year study of recidivism by Correctional Counseling Inc., a Memphis-based behavioral therapy program, is the longest study of recidivism in the country, say psychologists Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson.

“It followed 1,381 inmates who first served time at the Shelby County Correction Center between 1987 and 1991. They were taking part in a new treatment program designed by the psychologists that since has gone from a local pilot program to one used in 47 states and eight countries.

“There were 1,052 inmates who used the new program (called MRT for moral reconation therapy) and 329 inmates in a comparison group who received only standard therapy. Results of the 20-year study include:

“About 94 percent of inmates receiving only standard counseling had been rearrested and 82 percent of them wound up back behind bars.

“Of those receiving MRT therapy, 81 percent had been rearrested and 61 percent again wound up behind bars. It was reduction of about 25 percent from the group that did not receive MRT therapy.”