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High Recidivism Rates Highlight Need for Deeper Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new report from the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) highlights the need for deeper adult level criminal justice reform to help reduce the number of people who leave prison and re-offend upon their return the community.

The new study, Recidivism of State Prisoners Released in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010, is based on BJS data collection which tracked a sample of formerly incarcerated people from 30 states for five years following their release from prison in 2005. The report showed that:

  • About two-thirds (67.8 percent) of people released were arrested for a new crime within three years, and three-quarters (76.6 percent) were arrested within five years.     
  • Within five years of release, 82.1 percent of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 76.9 percent of drug offenders, 73.6 percent of public order offenders, and 71.3 percent of violent offenders.     
  • More than a third (36.8 percent) of all people who were arrested within five years of release were re-arrested within the first six months after release, with more than half (56.7 percent) arrested by the end of the first year.

BJS cautioned that, "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." That earlier 1994 survey showed that 67.5 percent of those released were re-arrested within three years.

"These new figures from the U.S. Justice Department once again highlight the need for the nation to double down on its modest attempts to improve re-entry for those people returning from prison to the community," said Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute. "We need to reform, repeal and refocus our sentencing laws so that we reserve our most expensive correctional resources for those individuals who really pose a threat to public safety, and reinvest the $80 billion spent on prisons and jails on proven approaches that will reduce recidivism."

For more information, see Recidivism of State Prisoners Released in 2005, and visit the Justice Policy Institute our website for more information on state and federal policy reform approaches that will enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, and promote a fairer justice system.

Posted in Press Releases & Statements

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