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Fewer Inmates Returning to Prison After Release

The “2011 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report” shows inmate recidivism rate declines

SACRAMENTO – California’s recidivism rate fell to 65 percent this year, according to the 2011 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This significant reduction of 2.4 percentage points in one year equates to 2,766 fewer offenders returning to prison and an approximate saving to California taxpayers of $30 million.

“A major goal for CDCR and for other public safety officials is to prevent offenders from victimizing again after their release from incarceration,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “Even a slight drop in the overall percentage can equate to thousands of inmates who have not returned to prison and likely prevented the victimization of countless citizens. Reducing recidivism has been a primary goal for our agency, and this report shows that progress is being made.”

Key findings in the report include:

• 45 percent of the released felons returned to prison for parole violations;

• Female offenders recidivate at a lower rate than males—11.2 percentage points lower, after three years;

• Recidivating sex registrants are most often returned to prison for a new non-sex crime than for a new sex crime. Of the sex offenders who recidivate, 84.4 percent return to prison for a parole violation;

• Overall, inmates with a developmental disability recidivated at a higher rate than those without a developmental disability designation – nearly 13 percentage points higher than inmates without developmental disabilities;

• 99 percent of convicted murderers who paroled since 1995 did not return to prison;

• The combination of in-prison substance-abuse treatment programs with after-care results in the best outcome: a recidivism rate that is much lower than those who did not participate in an in-prison substance-abuse program (with or without after-care); and

• Inmates who were assigned to a Security Housing Unit recidivate at a higher rate than those who were not.

The 2011 report focuses on offenders who were released in fiscal year 2006-07. All offenders were tracked for a full three-year follow-up period, even if they were discharged from parole, to determine if they recidivated. New this year are analyses focusing on recidivism rates for persons with developmental disabilities, murderers, offenders who have received substance-abuse treatment, and those who have paroled from a Security Housing Unit (SHU).

The in-depth report also includes analyses of demographics, including gender, age, offense, length of stay, risk category, mental health status and behavior while under CDCR custody and supervision. Furthermore, the report includes an extended analysis of sex offenders, as well as the types of offenses committed by parole violators that resulted in their return to prison.

CDCR has tracked return-to-prison rates for first-time felons released from prison since 1977. Last year’s 2010 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report expanded this recidivism measure to include re-released felons and felons who have been discharged from parole. CDCR measures recidivism using arrests, convictions, and returns to prison at one-, two- and three-year intervals dating back to offenders released in fiscal year 2002-03. Return to prison is used as the primary measure due to its reliability and common usage by correctional stakeholders. This return measure includes first releases from prison and re-releases of parole violators.

CAPTION: Parole violations are the primary reason that released felons are returned to prison.

The 2011 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report is published by the CDCR Office of Research, which provides research, data analysis, and evaluation to implement evidence-based programs and practices, strengthen policy, inform management decisions, and ensure accountability.

View report:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Contact: Paul Verke
 (916) 445-4950