SACRAMENTO – The rate at which offenders return to state prison continues to fall, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). CDCR released its latest annual recidivism report and it shows the total three-year return-to-prison rate for all offenders released during fiscal year 2010-2011 is 44.6 percent, down from 54.3 percent last year.
“Most offenders sent to prison are eventually released, and so rehabilitation is in everyone’s best interest – our staff, the inmates and the community at large,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan. “The latest recidivism rate shows that we’re helping more inmates learn how to live a law-abiding, productive life.”
The rate at which people return to prison has consistently trended downward since fiscal year 2005-2006 when the rate was 67.5 percent. For the first time, more people released in one year stayed out of prison than returned.
Report shows substance abuse treatment is a major factor in reducing recidivism
CDCR also examines the return-to-prison rates of offenders who received in-prison substance abuse treatment and community-based substance abuse treatment programs. Offenders who received both in-prison substance abuse treatment and completed post-release aftercare had a 15.3 percent return-to-prison rate, the lowest of all people released in fiscal year 2010-2011.
CDCR tracks the 95,690 people who were released from state prison after serving their sentence between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, for three years. Not only are their one-, two- and three-year return-to-prison rates analyzed, offender demographics and characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, length of sentence, type of offense, county of commitment, prior incarcerations, mental health status and risk for a reconviction are also examined.
The implementation of Public Safety Realignment in 2011 continues to have an impact on the state’s return-to-prison rate. Under Realignment, no offenders were released early. Effective October 1, 2011, offenders arrested on a parole violation or convicted of non-violent, non-serious, non-registrable sex offense felonies serve their sentences under county supervision instead of in state prison. Although all the offenders in the fiscal year 2010-2011 cohort were released before the passage of Assembly Bill 109, the law was in effect for varying amounts of time during their three-year follow-up period and contributed to the decline in the number of people returning to prison for parole violations.
CDCR studies recidivism by tracking arrests, convictions and returns to prison and uses returns to prison as its primary measure. An offender is counted as a recidivist if he or she has returned to state prison for a new crime or for a parole violation within a three-year period. This approach is consistent with previous reports so policymakers and researchers have year-to-year comparisons.
The latest Outcome Evaluation Report is published annually by CDCR’s Office of Research, which provides research, data analysis and evaluation to implement and assess evidence-based programs and practices, strengthen policy, inform management decisions and ensure accountability. The office has reported the rates at which adult offenders return to prison following release from state prison since 1977.