Annual Re-Arrest Percentage Declines: BJS

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About 82 percent of people released from state prisons in 2008 across 24 states were arrested at least once during the 10 years following release, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports.

But according to data analyzed by BJS Statisticians Leonardo Antenangeli and Matthew R. Durose, the annual re-arrest percentage declined over time, with 43 percent of prisoners arrested at least once in the first year of their release, 29 percent arrested in the fifth year, and 22 percent arrested in the 10th year.

Of the offenses that ended in rearrest, parole or probation violations or new sentences accounted for about 61 percent of prisoners released in 2008 who were arrested within 10 years. For those arrested in the 10 years following their release, 16 percent were arrested outside the state that released them.

The statisticians also broke down the findings by age, determining that 90 percent of prisoners who were 24 or younger at the time of release were arrested within 10 years, 85 percent of those between 25 to 39 were rearrested and 75 percent who were age 40 or older were arrested within 10 years of release. The median age of state prisoners released in 2008 was 34.

For re-incarcerated people, original crimes and crimes that resulted in re-arrest often differed. Around 75 percent of drug offenders released from prison in 2008 were arrested for a non-drug crime within 10 years.

Additionally, more than 8 in 10 prisoners released after serving time for a property offense were arrested for a crime other than a property offense within 10 years.

Breaking down the big picture numbers — during the 10-year follow-up period, an estimated 2.2 million arrests occurred among the approximately 409,300 prisoners released in 2008 — illustrates the variability of recidivism.

About one in 4 state prisoners released in 2008 were serving time for a violent offense. Two percent of released prisoners were serving time for homicide, and 4 percent were serving time for rape or sexual assault. Nearly the same percentage of released prisoners had been serving time for property and drug offenses — 30 percent each — and the remaining 16 percent of released prisoners had been serving time for public order offenses.

“Prisoners released in 2008 had a median of nine prior arrests (for any type of offense) and five corresponding convictions in their criminal history before release,” the report reads.

The statisticians also found that released prisoners who served less time had higher arrest rates than those who served more. “Overall, prisoners who had served less than the 15-month median (81 percent) were more likely than those who served more than the median (76 percent) to be arrested within 10 years of release,” the report reads.

“Among violent offenders, released prisoners whose time served was less than the 29-month median (78 percent) were more likely than those who served more than the median (66 percent) to be arrested within 10 years.”

The BJS findings in its first study of prisoner recidivism over a 10-year period represent a sampling of about 73,600 released prisoners across the 24 states responsible for 69 percent of all people released from state prisons in 2008 nationwide.

To access the full report and tables, click here.

Eva Herscowitz is a TCR contributing writer.

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