We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

State of Recidivism: The revolving doors of America's Prisons

April 2011:

The dramatic growth of America’s prison population during the past three decades is by now a familiar story. In 2008, the Pew Center on the States reported that incarceration levels had risen to a point where one in 100 American adults was behind bars. A second Pew study the following year added another disturbing dimension to the picture, revealing that one in 31 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole.

The costs associated with this growth also have been well documented. Total state spending on corrections is now about $52 billion, the bulk of which is spent on prisons. State spending on corrections quadrupled during the past two decades, making it the second fastest growing area of state budgets, trailing only Medicaid.

While America’s imprisonment boom and its fiscal impacts have been widely debated, the public safety payoff from our expenditures on incarceration has undergone far less scrutiny. Now, however, as the nation’s slumping economy continues to force states to do more with less, policy makers are asking tougher questions about corrections outcomes.

One key element of that analysis is measuring recidivism, or the rate at which offenders return to prison. Prisons, of course, are not solely responsible for recidivism results. Parole and probation agencies, along with social service providers and community organizations, play a critical role.

Although preventing offenders from committing more crimes once released is only one goal of the overall correctional system, it is a crucial one, both in terms of preventing future victimization and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively. This report seeks to elevate the public discussion about recidivism, prompting policy makers and the public to dig more deeply into the factors that impact rates of return to prison, and into effective strategies for reducing them.

A Fresh Look at the Numbers

For years the most widely accepted sources of national recidivism statistics have been two studies produced by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The most recent of those reports, which tracked offenders released from state prison in 1994, concluded that a little more than half of released offenders (51.8 percent) were back in prison within three years, either for committing a new crime or for violating rules of their supervision. Published in 2002, the BJS study followed a sample of offenders from 15 states, and did not provide any state level recidivism data.

Recognizing the importance of recidivism to policy makers seeking better results from their correctional systems, Pew, in collaboration with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), undertook a comprehensive survey aimed at producing the first state-by-state look at recidivism rates. The Pew/ASCA survey asked states to report three-year returnto-prison rates for all inmates released from their prison systems in 1999 and 2004.This survey differs from the prior BJS study in many important ways, the most significant of which is that it
includes recidivism data from more than twice as many states.

Note: This is an excellent GENERAL State by State Recidivism Report w/Tables for individual states: by Pew Center

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