Studying the outcomes of incarcerated people after they are released from prison informs policies to improve rehabilitation and public safety
Since 1977, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Research has studied recidivism. CDCR’s Office of Research conducts research, data analysis and program evaluation to implement and assess evidence-based programs and practices, strengthen policy, inform management decisions and ensure accountability.
CDCR currently examines recidivism outcomes (arrest, conviction, and return-to-prison rates) for people released from its adult institutions in a given fiscal year and monitored over 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.
Beginning with the 2016 report, CDCR shifted its primary measure of recidivism from the three-year return-to-prison rate to the three-year conviction rate consistent with the statewide definition of recidivism.
CDCR’s recidivism reports also examine rates by the demographics and characteristics of people released from prison including age, gender, ethnicity, offense, county of release, type of sentence, sex registration status, serious and violent offenses, prior incarcerations, mental health status and risk for reconviction.
Reports may also discuss the impacts of legislation and criminal justice reforms. Read recidivism reports.