Friday, April 15, 2011

Recidivism Rates, 3 & 20 Years Out

A new study reported by this news release from the Pew Center on the States, notes a recidivism rate of around 40% three years after release, but when evaluated for longer periods, as reported by the Commercial Appeal concerning a study which looked at recidivism rates over a twenty year period, it is double that.

For several reasons (one being the higher probability of closer supervision during the intial release period) the three year time frame for evaluating recidivism is virtually worthless as a basis for polcy decisions, but using an 8-10 year period isn't.

1) An excerpt from the Pew Center.

“April 13, 2011 — More than four in ten offenders nationwide return to state prison within three years of their release despite a massive increase in state spending on prisons, according to a Pew report.

“States today spend more than $50 billion a year on corrections, yet recidivism rates remain stubbornly high. As the slumping economy forces states to do more with less, policy makers are looking for a better public safety return on their corrections dollars.

“While overall figures are discouraging, the report highlights the strategies that three states— Michigan, Missouri and Oregon— have employed to reduce returns to prison.”

2) An excerpt from the Commercial Appeal

“The numbers are part of a 20-year study that shows recidivism is far worse than statistics usually indicate. It is the only study done over such a long period of time, tracking inmates who were first jailed at the correction center between 1987 and 1991, says psychologist Dr. Greg Little.

“Little and psychologist Dr. Kenneth Robinson, founders of Correctional Counseling Inc., were trying out a new treatment program in 1987 and began tracking inmates to compare their results with those of inmates who went through only standard counseling. They followed each inmate, recording every re-arrest and every re-incarceration.

“Tennessee Department of Correction studies show recidivism rates of about 51 percent over a three-year period, and national studies show recidivism averages of roughly 65 percent over three years. But Little and Robinson say the numbers keep going up over time, and the numbers are higher because most studies don't count re-incarcerations that took place in other states or in courts other than the original case. For instance, an inmate released on state probation or parole is seldom counted as a recidivist if later jailed for a federal crime.”