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

The Misleading Math of ‘Recidivism’

2-27-17 National:

New York’s Department of Corrections last week released a report that generated triumphant headlines in some of the upstate communities that house prisons: “Recidivism rates for ex-inmates reach 28-year low,” “Fewer Offenders Going Back to Prison,” and “New York Sees Less Crime by Ex-Offenders.”

Recidivism, the rate at which former inmates run afoul of the law again, is one of the most commonly accepted measures of success in criminal justice. Nationally, the numbers are discouraging. About three-quarters of inmates released from state prisons are rearrested within five years of their release, and 55 percent are incarcerated again (see figure 1).

At first glance, the upbeat coverage seemed unjustified. New York state’s overall recidivism numbers have not changed much since the mid-1990s. The state report showed recidivism actually remained stable for prisoners released between 1996 and 2010, with about 40 percent of former inmates returning to prison within three years of release. Between 2008 and 2010, the recidivism rate even inched slightly upward.

The Department of Corrections, however, called attention to the data within the data: although overall recidivism rates were stable, between 1985 and 2010 there was a 10 percent decrease in the number of former inmates returning to prison because of new felony convictions. (That drop in new felonies took place during an era of unprecedented declines in crime nationwide, but that’s another story.) Most of the returns to prison in New York — 78 percent — were triggered not by fresh offenses but by parole violations, such as failing drug tests or skipped meetings with parole officers. In other words, the numbers showed a decline in danger to the public.

The way New York corrections officials extracted good news from not-so-good news illustrates the fact that recidivism, though constantly discussed, can be widely interpreted — and misinterpreted. Below, a few reasons why.

What is recidivism, anyway?

In some studies, violating parole, breaking the law, getting arrested, being convicted of a crime, and returning to prison are all considered examples of recidivism. Other studies count just one or two of these events as recidivism, such as convictions or re-incarceration. ..Continued.. by Dana Goldstein

No comments: