Of 368 convicted murderers granted parole in New York between 1999 and 2003, six, or 1.6 percent,were returned to prison within three years for a new felony conviction – none of them a violent offense, says a state Parole Board study reported by the Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. The board reported that of 1,190 convicted murderers released from 1985 to 2003 in New York state, 35, or just under 3 percent, returned to prison for a new felony conviction within three years.
"Individuals who are released on parole after serving sentences for murder consistently have the lowest recidivism rate of any offenders," said John Caher, a spokesman for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. A 2002 study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics tracking 272,000 inmates released in New York and 14 other states found that 1.2 percent of those freed after serving a murder sentence were rearrested on homicide charges within three years – the lowest rate among all reported crimes by released prisoners. "This is a very difficult issue, and unless we lock everyone up for life they're all coming back sooner or later," said Martin Horn, a former New York City corrections and probation commissioner who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.