11 States Report Reduction in Three-Year Recidivism Rates

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Photo by Nicholas Cardot via Flickr

States are showing a reduction in their three-year, return-to-prison rates, according to new data revealed by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center

“Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results,” an ongoing series by the CSG Justice Center, tracked data from 11 state corrections agencies to reveal significant multi-year declines in reincarceration rates since their peak years of recidivism.

They found that diverse states—from New Jersey to South Dakota—showed reductions in the number of people returning to prison.

For instance, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin showed reductions in recidivism of 20 percent or more.

“Despite the progress we’ve made over the last two decades toward embracing recidivism reduction as a central mission of corrections agencies, some remain skeptical that these numbers can truly drop,” said Harold Clarke, director of Virginia’s Department of Corrections. “

But this report is further evidence that they not only can decrease, but in many states, they are,”

The report also points to federal investments over the last decade that have accelerated state-level progress by funding programs that pursue research-based approaches to recidivism reduction.

These approaches include: tracking data, precise use of risk and needs assessments, strengthening supervision, and connecting people to post-release services.

“Ohio’s three-year recidivism rate dropped 20 percent over the last seven years. That is progress we would not have achieved without the federal support,” said Tom Stickrath, superintendent of Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, in the study.

“This report shines a light on how federal funding provided through legislation like the Second Chance Act gives states the ability to learn from the work of others, apply research-driven approaches, and hold themselves accountable by tracking progress through data analysis.”

A full copy of the report can be found here. 

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