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AK- Criminal Recidivism in Alaska

Study the highlighting below, does it make sense?

January 2007

Executive Summary

How well does Alaska’s criminal justice system work to protect the public? What works best? What needs improvement? Can less costly alternatives more effectively promote public safety? Knowing what happens after offenders serve their sentences can help answer these questions.

This report by the Judicial Council is the first general study of recidivism in Alaska. It describes the percentages of offenders who were re-arrested, had new court cases filed, were re-convicted, or remanded to custody for new offenses or for probation or parole violations. The report shows how soon after release these events occurred, and what factors were most closely related to an increased chance that offenders would be involved again in the criminal justice system. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services funded the report.

The Council followed 1,934 offenders, all of whom were charged with at least one felony in 1999 and convicted. Of those, 59% were convicted of a felony, and 41% of a misdemeanor.

-How can both statements be true? This is a study done by professionals employed by the state of Alaska.

This report focuses on the 1,798 offenders who had been out of custody for at least three years after they had served their sentence. The Council found that within three years after release from their sentence on the 1999 offense:

• 66% of all offenders in the sample had been re-incarcerated at least once, for a new offense or a probation or parole violation.

• 59% were arrested at least once for a new offense.

Recidivism rates during the three-year period by demographic factors and type of offense (see Parts 3 and 6)

• The likelihood that an offender would be re-arrested was affected by the type of offense for which the offender was convicted in 1999: 67% of Property offenders were re-arrested, as compared to 61% of Driving offenders, 60% of Violent offenders, 52% of Drug offenders, and 39% of Sexual offenders.

• The factors most closely related to increased recidivism were the offender’s age, and indigent status (indigent offenders were those who qualified for public attorney representation in 1999).

• An offender’s ethnicity (if Native), prior criminal history, alcohol, drug and mental health problems were other factors that increased the chance of re-arrest.

Types and seriousness of new convictions (see Part 4)

• Youthful offenders, males and those previously convicted of a Violent offense were more likely to commit a new offense at a more serious level than their 1999 offense.

• Most offenders who were convicted of a new offense were convicted of an offense of the same or lesser seriousness level than their 1999 conviction. Offenders with alcohol or drug problems in 1999 were less likely than others to be convicted of a more serious offense. An offender’s indigency or mental health problems were not related to conviction on a more serious offense.

• Sexual offenders were the least likely to commit the same offense again; those previously convicted of Driving offenses were the most likely to commit the same offense again.

Timing of recidivism (see Part 5)

• Offenders were arrested for most of their new offenses within the first year after release, particularly during the first six months after release.

Part 1
Measures of Recidivism

The Council looked at four measures of recidivism for offenders charged with a felony filed in calendar 1999, and convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.1 They were:2

• Re-arrests of the offender (using Department of Public Safety data).

• New court cases filed against the offender (using data from Alaska Court System).

• Re-convictions of the offender (using Department of Public Safety data).
• Remands to incarceration of the offender, which included remands for new arrests, and for probation and parole violations (using Department of Corrections data).3

These sources chosen for data are standard sources of information about criminal justice events for specific offenders.4 Similar databases are used by all fifty states to report information and conduct statistical analyses. Therefore, the Council’s data on recidivism can be compared more easily to data from other jurisdictions.

As in other jurisdictions, reports such as this one rely on criminal justice record repositories that probably understate the actual level of re-arrests and re-convictions.5 Although many recidivism reports use only one or two of these measures, the Council has chosen to use all four. Three of the four: re-arrest, new cases filed, and remands to custody do not reflect proven criminal behavior.

Remands may reflect violations of conditions of probation or parole (for example, no drinking) that are not criminal behavior, or they may be a remand because the offender was arrested for a new offense.6 The fourth measure, new convictions, shows only criminal behavior that has been proven in court, whether by a plea from the defendant or conviction after trial. Re-arrests, new cases filed, and remands are useful to understand the frequency with which the criminal justice system had new contacts with offenders. ..more.. by Alaska Judicial Council

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