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New Report: California’s Return-to-Prison Rate Falls for the Fourth Straight Year to 54.3 percent

Offenders who receive substance abuse treatment are dramatically less likely to return to prison
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today released the fifth in a series of annual reports analyzing the rate at which people released from state prison return to state custody. The new report, 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report, shows that the total three-year return-to-prison rate for all offenders released during fiscal year 2009-2010 is 54.3 percent, down from 61.0 percent last year.
“Reducing recidivism and making our communities safer is a top priority for us,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. “We are committed to providing inmates and parolees with the tools they need to turn their lives around and we will continue to implement innovative and evidence-based programs to sustain this downward trend.”
The rate at which people return to prison has been trending downward since fiscal year 2005-2006 when the rate was 67.5 percent.
The 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report looked at the return-to-prison rates of offenders and found significant success among those who received substance abuse treatment. Offenders who received both in-prison substance abuse treatment and post-release aftercare had a 20.9 percent return-to-prison rate.
“This finding shows that a combination of substance abuse treatment and recovery coupled with continuing care in the community makes a big difference in helping offenders turn their lives around,” Secretary Beard said.
The 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report examines and analyzes return-to-prison rates by age, gender, ethnicity, length of time to serve, offense, county of commitment, county of parole, sentence, prior incarcerations and other characteristics.
An offender is counted as a recidivist if he or she has returned to state prison for a new crime or for a parole violation within a three-year period.
Assembly Bill 1050, enacted in September 2013, required the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), in consultation with the Secretary of CDCR and others, to develop definitions of key criminal justice terms including “recidivism” in order to facilitate consistency in local data collection, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based programs.
BSCC defines recidivism as “conviction of a new felony or misdemeanor committed within three years of release from custody or committed within three years of placement on supervision for a previous criminal conviction.” BSCC’s definition also includes supplemental measures of recidivism, including arrests, returns to custody, criminal filings and supervision violations.
CDCR studies recidivism by tracking arrests, convictions and returns to prison and uses one of BSCC’s supplemental measures – returns to prison – as its primary measure. This approach is consistent with previous reports so policymakers and researchers have year-to-year comparisons. CDCR has reported the rates at which adult offenders return to prison following release from state prison since 1977.
The 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report also includes rates for arrests and convictions for offenders released between fiscal year 2002-2003 and 2011-2012. Over a 10-year period, the one-year supplemental recidivism rates show an increase in arrests and convictions while returns to prison decreased substantially. The two- and three-year supplemental recidivism rates also show a decrease in returns to state prison, but arrests and convictions are relatively steady.
The 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report shows that following the implementation of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act, there are fewer offenders who are eligible to return to state prison for parole violations. Assembly Bill 109, passed by the Legislature in 2011, was intended to close the revolving door of low-level offenders cycling in and out of state prison and it contributed to this year’s decline in the return-to-prison rate.
The 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report is published by CDCR’s 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.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             
July 8, 2015
Contact: Terry Thornton                                                                                           
 (916) 445-4950
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