Forty Percent of Criminals Return to Prison Within Three Years

Forty Percent of Criminals Return to Prison Within Three Years

Forty Percent of Criminals Return to Prison Within Three Years

The Pew Center has released new data showing that the recidivism rate remains shocking high, despite widespread spending increases on building new prisons and harsher punishments. Four in 10 criminal offenders were back in prison in less than three years of getting out shows a new study called State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. Some states seemed to have made progress in lowering this rate, and examining how they did so may allow for federal changes.

Policy makers are on the look out for budget cutting opportunities, and the spending on state corrections has quadrupled in the last 20 years. States spend a total of over $50 billion a year on prisons, parole officers and re-conditioning programs. Despite the increased expenditures, little impact has been made on the rate of return for prisoners. Texas has seen some improvement by shifting spending on nonviolent offenders to support less expensive alternatives to prison, like house arrest and high supervision through parole officers.

The rates of recidivism has remained constant since about 1994, according to data gathered both by the Pew Center and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some states are much higher than 40%, while others have trimmed this number significantly. States who use evidence-based processes to determine the impact of their correctional programs tend to adapt faster to criminal trends and prevent repeat offenders. The response when an offender breaks the rules of a probation or parole sentence also affects recidivism rates.

33 states were used in the study, which looked at data gathered between 1999 and 2004. Recidivism dropped in over 17 states, but rose in another 15. Only one state stayed completely constant throughout that five year period. Alaska, Illinois and Vermont had recidivism rates climb over 50%, while Wyoming, Virginia and Oklahoma dropped their rates below 30%.


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