Success in the Media

Percent of Released Prisoners Returning to Incarceration

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Crime in America.Net-Updated in November of 2014 and July of 2016.

We have a reader request; she asks about recidivism of people released from prison (arrests, convictions, returns to prison). The report below summarizes the five principle studies:

Federal Offender Recidivism-June of 2016


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Of the nearly 43,000 federal offenders who were placed on federal community supervision in fiscal year 2005, an estimated 43 percent were arrested at least once within five years of their placement per the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

During their criminal careers prior to being placed on federal community supervision in 2005, these offenders were arrested approximately 210,000 times.

Federal law enforcement agencies accounted for approximately 24% of all prior arrests. State and local law enforcement agencies were responsible for the other 76% of prior arrests.

Almost 45% of federal offenders placed on community supervision in 2005 had 4 or more prior arrests.

An estimated 18 percent of these offenders were arrested at least once within one year of placement on community supervision and 35 percent were arrested at least once within three years of placement.

An estimated 80 percent of offenders who were placed on federal community supervision in 2005 were male. More than a third (41 percent) were white and nearly a third (31 percent) were black.  An estimated 28 percent were age 29 or younger and about 42 percent were age 40 or older.

Among federal offenses, public order offenses, such as probation violations, accounted for 90 percent of first arrests of federal offenders after placement on community supervision, compared to 33 percent of first arrests for nonfederal offenses.

In comparing federal and state prisoners placed on community supervision, almost half (47 percent) of federal prisoners were arrested within five years, compared to more than three-quarters (77 percent) of state prisoners.

Nearly a third (32 percent) of federal prisoners returned to prison within five years of their release to community supervision, compared to more than half (59 percent) of the state prisoners.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of federal offenders on community supervision were directly sentenced to probation, while more than three-quarters (77 percent) began a term of community supervision following release from prison.

An estimated 70 percent of federal offenders on community supervision had at least one prior nonfederal arrest, and more than a third (35 percent) had four or more prior nonfederal arrests.

The report, Recidivism of Offenders Placed on Federal Community Supervision in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 is available at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ropfcs05p0510.pdf

April, 2014 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Following Prison Releases for Three and Five Years:

An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison, and three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

More than a third (37 percent) of prisoners who were arrested within five years of release were arrested within the first six months after release, with more than half (57 percent) arrested by the end of the first year.

These findings are based on a BJS data collection, Recidivism of State Prisoners Released in 2005, which tracked a sample of former prison inmates from 30 states for five years following release in 2005.

During the five years after release, prisoners in the study were arrested about 1.2 million times across the country. A sixth (16 percent) of released prisoners were responsible for nearly half (48 percent) of the arrests. About two in five (42 percent) released prisoners were either not arrested or were arrested no more than once in the five years after release.

The longer released prisoners went without being arrested, the less likely they were to be arrested at all during the follow-up period. For example, 43 percent of released prisoners were arrested within one year of release, compared to 13 percent of those not arrested by the end of year four who were arrested in the fifth year after release.

Among prisoners released in 2005 in 23 states with available data on inmates returned to prison, about half (50 percent) had either a parole or probation violation or an arrest for a new crime within three years that led to imprisonment, and more than half (55 percent) had a parole or probation violation or an arrest within five years that led to imprisonment.

Recidivism rates varied with the attributes of the inmate. Prisoners released after serving time for a property offense were the most likely to recidivate. Within five years of release, 82 percent of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 77 percent of drug offenders, 74 percent of public order offenders and 71 percent of violent offenders.

Released prisoners who were incarcerated for a violent, property or drug crime were more likely than other released inmates to be arrested for a similar type of crime. Regardless of the incarceration offense, the majority (58 percent) of released prisoners were arrested for a public order offense within five years of release. An estimated 39 percent of released prisoners were arrested within five years for a drug offense, 38 percent for a property offense and 29 percent for a violent offense.

Recidivism was highest among males, blacks and young adults. By the end of the fifth year after release, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of males and two-thirds (68 percent) of females were arrested, a 10 percentage point difference that remained relatively stable during the entire 5-year follow-up period.

Five years after release from prison, black offenders had the highest recidivism rate (81 percent), compared to Hispanic (75 percent) and white (73 percent) offenders.

Recidivism rates declined with age. Within five years of release, 84 percent of inmates who were age 24 or younger at release were arrested for a new offense, compared to 79 percent of inmates ages 25 to 39 and 69 percent of those age 40 or older.

The arrest of former prisoners after release increased with the extent of their criminal history. Within five years of release, 61 percent of released inmates with four or fewer arrests in their prior criminal history were arrested, compared to 86 percent of those who had 10 or more prior arrests.

Many inmates had multi-state criminal history records. About a tenth (11 percent) of prisoners had an arrest within five years of release in a state other than the one that released them, and nearly a quarter (25 percent) of the released prisoners had a prior out-of-state arrest.

Return to Prison

Classified a person as a recidivist when an arrest resulted in a conviction with a disposition of a prison sentence or when the offender was returned to prison without a new conviction because of a technical violation of his or her release, such as failing a drug test or missing an appointment with a parole officer.

Within 3 years of release, 49.7% of inmates either had an arrest that resulted in a conviction with a disposition of a prison sentence or were returned to prison without a new conviction because they violated a technical condition of their release, as did 55.1% of inmates within 5 years of release.

These findings from the recidivism study on prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states and tracked to 2010 cannot be directly compared to the previous BJS study on prisoners released in 1994 in 15 states due to changes in the demographic characteristics and criminal histories of the U.S. prison population, an increase in the number of states in the study and improvements made to the quality and completeness of the nation’s criminal history records since the mid-1990s.

The report, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 (NCJ 244205), was written by Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper and Howard N. Snyder. can be found on the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.

April, 2011 study from Pew:

Another study on recidivism (defined for this report as a return to prison) was offered by the Pew Center on the States, Pew Safety Performance Project and released in April, 2011.

The study analyzed returns to prison for 33 states for those released in 1999 and 41 states for those released in 2004 making the study the most comprehensive analysis of returns to prison ever done.

The report compared earlier studies on recidivism conducted by the US Department of Justice for 15 states for releases in 1983 and 1994 and concluded that recidivism rates “have consistently remained around 40 percent.” California was excluded from this finding due to that state’s large percentage of the nation’s prison population and the fact that California’s rate of return to prison is traditionally high.

The report singles out three states, Oregon, Michigan and Missouri for lowering rates of return to prison.

Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2011/pewstateofrecidivismpdf.pdf

June 2002 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Following Prison Releases for Three Years:

Before the Pew report there was nothing of a national and substantive nature except for a US Department of Justice study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics that was released in June of 2002 based on inmates released from prison in 1994.

Note that there are a variety of older studies from the Bureau of Justice Statistics that remains definitive for many years. This study involved a very large set of data from 15 states and the methodology (quality of the research) was very good. This is the most quoted recidivism study in the country.

It followed offenders for three years and tracked results.

Principle Findings:

The study (see summary below) found that:

Two-thirds (sixty-seven percent) of offenders were arrested for “serious” crimes.

Fifty-two percent of the offenders were returned to prison for “serious” crimes and technical violations (they didn’t follow the rules of their release after prison).

Summary of 2002 Study:

Sixty-seven percent of former inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at least one serious new crime within the following three years.

This was a rearrest rate 5 percent higher than that among prisoners released during 1983.

State prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were those who had been incarcerated for stealing motor vehicles (79 percent), possessing or selling stolen property (77 percent), larceny (75 percent), burglary (74 percent), robbery (70 percent) or those using, possessing or trafficking in illegal weapons (70 percent).

Those with the lowest rearrest rates were former inmates who had been in prison for homicide (41 percent), sexual assault (41 percent), rape (46 percent) or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (51 percent).

About 1 percent of the released prisoners who had served time for murder were arrested for another homicide within three years, and about 2 percent of the rapists were arrested for another rape within that period.

Within three years, 52 percent of the 272,111 released prisoners were back in prison either because of a new crime or because they had violated their parole conditions (e.g., failed a drug test, missed a parole office appointment).

Men were more likely to be rearrested than were women (68 percent, compared to 58 percent), blacks more likely than whites (73 percent vs. 63 percent) and non-Hispanics more than Hispanics (71 percent vs. 65 percent).

Younger prisoners and those with longer records were also more likely to be rearrested.

Post-prison recidivism was strongly related to arrest history.

Among prisoners with one arrest prior to their release, 41 percent were rearrested. Of those with two prior arrests, 47 percent were rearrested. Of those with three earlier arrests, 55 percent were rearrested. Among those with more than 15 prior arrests, that is about 18 percent of all released prisoners, 82 percent were rearrested within the three-year period.

The 272,111 inmates had accumulated more than 4.1 million arrest charges prior to their current imprisonment and acquired an additional 744,000 arrest charges in the 3 years following their discharge in 1994 – an average of about 18 criminal arrest charges per offender during their criminal careers.

These charges included almost 21,000 homicides, 200,000 robberies, 50,000 rapes and sexual assaults and almost 300,000 assaults.

Almost 8 percent of all released prisoners were rearrested for a new crime in a state other than the one that released them. These alleged offenders were charged with committing 55,760 new crimes in states other than the imprisoning state within the three-year period. New York, Arizona and California had the most arrests of out-of-state offenders in this study.

The data were from the largest recidivism study ever conducted in the United States, which tracked prisoners discharged in 15 states representing two-thirds of all state prisoners released in 1994.

They were 91 percent male, 50 percent white, 48 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic (of any race) and 44 percent were younger than 30 years old.

Most of them had been in prison for felonies: 22 percent for a violent offense (such as murder, rape, sexual assault or robbery), 33 percent for a serious property offense (mostly burglary, motor vehicle theft or fraud), 33 percent for a drug offense (primarily drug trafficking or possession) and 10 percent for public order offenses (mainly drunk driving or weapons crimes).

Most former convicts were rearrested shortly after getting out of prison: 30 percent within six months, 44 percent within a year, 59 percent within two years and 67 percent by the end of three years.

The study findings are based upon the prison and criminal records of an estimated 272,111 discharged prisoners in 15 states who were tracked through fingerprints records made at various points of contact with the justice system, both within the state in which they had served time and other states to which they traveled.

The BJS special report, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994”  is available at  http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1134

First Study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics: 

A previous study titled “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983” was released in April of 1989.  It was an analysis of the criminal records of more than 16,000 men and women, representing the almost 109,000 offenders who were released from prisons in 11 States during 1983.

The study links correctional data with federal and state criminal history records to provide a complete portrait of criminal careers for more than a half of the State prisoners released.

About 47% of the former prisoners were convicted of a new crime and 41 percent were sent back to prison or jail.

See: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1135

Other Studies:

There are a wide variety of state and local studies that also examined recidivism but none with the same large data set (numbers of people followed) and none with the same rigorous methodology.

Main Characteristics of Recidivism:

The study found two primary variables in recidivism which seem to be present in virtually all past and current studies:

Younger prisoners and those with longer records were more likely to be rearrested.

Post-prison recidivism was strongly related to arrest history.

Can these Results be Changed?

Yes. Interventions providing programs for offenders both in and out of prison can lower recidivism. The fundamental question is the significance of the reduction. The research remains unclear as to how well these programs work.

Contact us at [email protected]. Media on deadline, use [email protected].

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Comments

  1. It’s better to reduce re victimization rather than recidivism. Better to reduce crime than to reduce incarceration. If we can’t tell the difference, that’s the crux of the problem.

    • Hi Ed: Well, that took me a while to contemplate, but you are right.

    • emily knox says:

      Given that the record that i have showing up whenever my background check is carried out is from a time i was really young and stupid,but that was over 19 years ago,i sort for all types of help to prove am a different person entirely,including changing my name,didn’t help,till i met a top dog of a human resource firm who informed me of a ground of ethical elite hackers who were able to help remove my records from the jurisdiction they originate to everywhere they ever existed was totally removed from my records,it was like a dream come reality,i was able to get a job a qualify for without my past hurting me ,if your case is in anyway related to this,i suggest you contact hackhemp(AT)gmail(DOT)com ,they are professional and dependable,you can thank me later,am sure we all make mistakes and for that we deserve a second chance.

      • Hi Emily: That’s an interesting story. A tad illegal, but interesting. They are more than welcome to contact me. Best, Len.

  2. I would just like to say that inmates end up back in prison due to correction facilities. They play so many games with inmates. I know I’m going through it right now. They get their release and they take a month to get their paperwork done so they can move on,with life. The correction facilities constantly telling them that they are a nobody and they never will be anything. It’s constant harassment on these inmates. They DOC turn their backs on assaults, rape in prison.
    I personally know a young man who did his time, got discharge papers but the halfway house is taking their time on releasing him. It’s been 4 weeks and he’s still locked up. He has a good job, saved up over $2000.00, and got an apartment. They just kept playing games with him so yes he did wrong by taking off. Now if and when he is caught he has to go back to prison.
    My friend got discharged on may 19th,, he’s still waiting for final papers to get done.
    How can they have a chance to prove themselves when the DOC play these games?

    • Virginia Clark, PhD, MSW, LCSW, RN, CAP, CCCJS. says:

      I agree. The whole system needs to change. Re-entry programs here in Fl are a set up for failure. The inmates don’t really get what they need to succeed. Many Counselors are not qualified to counsel. There needs to Be more therapy to get at the core issues that is behind the crime and drug addiction. The pay is so bad DOC is not attracting the cream of the crop. There are so many areas that need to change. It’s difficult putting your heart into such needed programs when too many in and out of the system look down on this population. Makes me sick.

      • I am a Rehabilitation and I just received my masters degree in Forensic Psychology and I am thinking about working as a correctional counselor because the system is not helping inmates and that is why there is a high rate of recidivism. They don’t prepare inmates for re-entry back into the community and they set them up for failure. A lot of inmates are serving long sentences that don’t fit the crimes or drug related offenses and are not receiving any training while In prison or mental health treatment. The prison system has been using the same methods for over a decade and their needs to be prison reform. You are absolutely correct about the staff are not properly paid or trained. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

        • Hi Deborah: I agree with everything you said. God bless you for for your desire to serve. Just be prepared for a lot of frustration. I did what you are proposing, it’s a very tough job via the lack of support for programs and individual offenders with immense psychological problems; many don’t want to be helped. Do it for a couple years and see if you like it. Just be prepared. Best, Len.

  3. Rehabilitation doesn’t work!

    ….but transformation does. People have been overcoming crime and sin by accepting Jesus for over 2,000 years! There is more proof than necessary that seeking God can, and will, change lives for the better. We, as a country and a world, have strayed from God for too long. The results have been hellish. But people are beginning to realize how much God does for us, and I believe he is making a comeback in to our society. I pray for my lost brothers and sisters who are stuck in selfishness. Greed, Lust, Pride, Gluttony, Sloth, Wrath, and Envy, are the 7 deadly sins. They are the things that make us feel good instantly, but always lead us to misery and destruction.

    If you are tired of this way of life, there is a way out. His name is Jesus Christ.

  4. ARCHIE LEE MOORER JR. says:

    THIS SOCIETY IS GONE WILD.WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?

  5. Ken Vanderploeg says:

    I am a bit confused by the data presented: first it states that 67% of released prisoners in 1994 committed at least one new serious crime within 3 years but then it says only 52% were back in jail for either a new crime or for not complying with conditions of parole. That means that a lot of those that committed another serious crime never saw more jail time. I don’t know what qualifies as a “Serious crime” but does not result in jail time especially when it is not a first time offence.

  6. stanton wilson says:

    Michigan released thousands of inmates back into society, only to fail to arrest them and return them to prison after they violated their parole or committed new crimes. Currently there is a study to show how many murders have been committed by early released prisoners. Many parolees are not being supervised and therefore no one knows the actual status of these parolees. 11,000 rape kits went untested for years in Michigan, resulting in 21 serial rapist still remaining on the streets after only 600 kits being tested. Michigan needs to be excluded from this study as they have done little to protect the public. As I recall “protecting the public” is a part of

  7. Prisoners returning o prison

Trackbacks

  1. […] they’re probably experienced in it? I can’t find a statistic for this one. I tried. I found some older recidivism rates which include some rates for violent crimes, but that doesn’t really tell us what we’re looking for. I would like to make the […]

  2. […] would eventually lead to spreading the disease throughout the public population. And remember, about half of those released end up catching a new charge and going back to prison within 5 years. So this is […]

  3. […] incarceration followed this drastic reduction in civil rights, mass incarceration that affected exactly the groups it was intended to. By giving police the […]

  4. […] conducted through Crime in America show that within five years of release, 84% of inmates under the age of 24 are arrested for a new […]

  5. […] Fox "News" doesn't tell you. As always you spew opinions instead of knowing the facts 52 Percent of Released Prisoners Return to Prison-67 Percent Rearrested An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were […]

  6. […] crimeinamerica.net/2010/09/29/percent-of-released-prisoners-returning-to-incarceration/ […]

  7. […] Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 69 percent of prisoners released in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of […]

  8. […] Percent of Released Prisoners Returning to Incarceration […]

  9. […] years. Did you know that 52% of criminals go back to crime within the first year of being released? http://www.crimeinamerica.net/2010/09/29/percent-of-released-prisoners-returning-to-incarceration/ That’s because most criminals don’t learn their lesson while in prison, instead they meet […]

  10. […] April 2014, the Bureau of Justice Statistics performed a study following prison releases for three and five […]

  11. […] Karma teaches us that — though we are not immutable — our present choices and actions greatly influence our tendencies. And there is scientific evidence that supports this deterministic basis of Karma: the science of recidivism. For example, is a tendency for criminals to end up in trouble once again after imprisonment. Although it is important to note that many other factors play a role in their lives, criminals all over the world are known to commit to criminal activities more than just once, resulting in re-imprisonment. (Evidence is here, there, and there, but also here). […]

  12. […] on rehabilitation rather than punishment. According to http://www.crimeinamerica.net in the article “Percent of Released Prisoners Returning to Incarceration” about 68% of prisoners who were released were later arrested again. The Three Strike Law would […]

  13. […] on rehabilitation rather than punishment. According to http://www.crimeinamerica.net in the article “Percent of Released Prisoners Returning to Incarceration” about 68% of prisoners who were released were later arrested again. The Three Strike Law would […]

  14. […] and turning it into a way for offenders to have a second chance at rehabilitation. According to Crime America, 52% of inmates have a returning rate within 5 years after being incarcerated. The cards are […]

  15. […] criminals re-offend after incarceration.) https://www.salve.edu/sites/default/…Recidivism.pdf 52 Percent of Released Prisoners Return to Prison-67 Percent Rearrested http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc…lprisonpop.pdf More than 650,000 ex-offenders are released […]

  16. […] in and out of prison because he simply refuses to admit there is a problem and turn his life around? 52% of offenders return to prison because they don’t follow the rules after prison. Admittedly, intervention programs can reduce this risk  – but here must be something […]

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    52 Percent of Released Prisoners Return to Prison-67 Percent Rearrested

  18. […] So, Harry, did you know that the people around you shape who you are? Of course you do. If you don’t check out this article on “recidivism”. […]

  19. […] have to pay for his stay is discouraging, especially when he’ll have nearly a 50% chance of ending up back in prison. The type of control they are looking for is to prevent these types of people from being able to […]

  20. […] whopping 52% of released prisoners become repeat offenders. If they have the skills and experience to get a job after getting released, they’ll be less […]

  21. […] reforming after prison sentences is not great. A study by the Pew Center on the States found that half of inmates are back in prison within three years of being released from jail. It is a little better in sports […]

  22. […] of those people put themselves at risk of being incarcerated, in which case, they would have had a 52% chance of returning to prison with in 3 years, and a strong possibility of not finding a steady […]

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