The rate of released offenders returned to Ohio prisons is the lowest it has been in 11 years, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Last year, 34 percent of inmates returned to prison for a parole or probation violation or a new felony conviction, down from 36 percent in 2009, said state corrections director Gary Mohr. Last year’s recidivism rate is the lowest since 1997, when it was also 34 percent. The national recidivism rate averages about 50 percent.
Mohr credited several factors for the improvement: better inmate programming, more structured parole supervision, enhanced staff training, and more use of community corrections, such as halfway houses. The department offers “evidence-based” programming that research has shown to be successful in leading to careers after prison, such as its horticultural and auto-mechanic training for inmates, spokesman Carlo LoParo said. The state’s use of halfway houses and other community-corrections facilities for low-level, first-time offenders has helped improve the results by keeping such inmates away from career criminals in prisons, LoParo said. State lawmakers are trying to reduce the prison population of more than 50,000, 33 percent over design capacity, to avoid spending $500 million to build prisons.