Sessions on Recidivism Data: ‘Reality is Grim Indeed’

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The results of a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics study on recidivism “are of historic importance. The reality is grim indeed,” says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Speaking to the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans, Sessions said the study found that 83 percent of 60,000 state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested again within nine years. The study shows that 68 percent were arrested within the first three years. Almost half were arrested within a year of being released. The study estimates that the 400,000 state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested nearly two million times during the nine-year period, an average of five arrests each, Sessions said.

Virtually none of the released prisoners were arrested merely for probation or parole violations. Some ninety-nine percent of those arrested during the nine-year follow-up period were arrested for something other than a probation or parole violation. In many cases, former inmates were arrested for an offense at least as serious – if not more so – as the crime that got them in jail in the first place, Sessions said. The Attorney General discussed efforts to step up federal prosecutions going back to the Reagan administration. “Look, our goal is not to fill up the prisons,”  he told the sheriffs. “Our goal is to reduce crime and to keep every American safe. We should not as a policy keep persons in prison longer than necessary.  But clear and certain punishment does in fact make America safer.”

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