Recidivism Of Prisoners Released In 1983

Allen J. Beck, Ph.D., Bernard Shipley, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 1, 1989

Of the 108,580 persons released from prisons in 11 States in 1983, representing more than half of all released State prisoners that year, an estimated 62.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.8% were reconvicted, and 41.4% returned to prison or jail. Before their release from prison, the prisoners had been arrested and charged with an average of more than 12 offenses each; nearly two-thirds had been arrested at least once in the past for a violent offense; and two-thirds had previously been in jail or prison. By yearend 1986 those prisoners who were rearrested averaged an additional 4.8 new charges. An estimated 22.7% of all prisoners were rearrested for a violent offense within 3 years of their release.

Continue reading at bjs.govarrow1

Tracking State Prison Growth in 50 States

Peter Wagner, Prison Policy Initiative, May 28, 2014

Over the last three decades of the 20th century, the United States engaged in an unprecedented prison-building boom that has given our nation the highest incarceration rate in the world. Among people with experience in criminal justice policy matters, the “hockey stick curve” of the national incarceration rate is well known; but until now more detailed data on the incarceration rates for individual states has been harder to come by.This briefing fills the gap with a series of more than 100 graphs showing prison growth (and sometimes decline) for every state in the nation to encourage states to confront how their criminal policy choices undermine our national welfare.

Ending the U.S. experiment with mass incarceration requires us to focus on state policy because individual states are the most active incarcerating bodies in the nation.

Continue reading at prisonpolicy.orgarrow1

Quick Facts

Families Against Mandatory Minimums, 2014

Since Congress created mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in the 1980s, the federal prison population has grown from 24,000 prisoners to over 218,000 prisoners – the largest prison system in the country.

The United States has more people behind bars – 2.3 million – than any other country in the world.

One in every 100 Americans is in prison or jail.

Continue reading at famm.orgarrow1

Recidivism Of Prisoners Released In 30 States In 2005: Patterns From 2005 To 2010

Alexia D. Cooper, Ph.D., Matthew R. Durose, Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., April 22, 2014

Overall, 67.8% of the 404,638 state prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states were arrested within 3 years of release, and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years of release (figure 1). Among prisoners released in 2005 in 23 states with available data on inmates returned to prison, 49.7% had either a parole or probation violation or an arrest for a new offense within 3 years that led to imprisonment, and 55.1% had a parole or probation violation or an arrest that led to imprisonment within 5 years.
While prior Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) prisoner recidivism reports tracked inmates for 3 years following release, this report used a 5-year follow-up period. The longer window provides supplementary information for policymakers and practitioners on the officially recognized criminal behavior of released prisoners. While 20.5% of released prisoners not arrested within 2 years of release were arrested in the third year, the percentage fell to 13.3% among those who had not been arrested within 4 years. The longer recidivism period also provides a more complete assessment of the number and types of crimes committed by released persons in the years following their release.

Continue reading at bjs.govarrow1

The Price To Call Home: State-Sanctioned Monopolization In The Prison Phone Industry

Drew Kukorowski, Prison Policy Initiative, September 11, 2012

Exorbitant calling rates make the prison telephone industry one of the most lucrative businesses in the United States today. This industry is so profitable because prison phone companies have state-sanctioned monopolistic control over the state prison markets, and the government agency with authority to rein in these rates across the nation has been reluctant to offer meaningful relief.

Prison phone companies are awarded these monopolies through bidding processes in which they submit contract proposals to the state prison systems; in all but eight states, these contracts include promises to pay “commissions” — in effect, kickbacks — to states, in either the form of a percentage of revenue, a fixed up-front payment, or a combination of the two. Thus, state prison systems have no incentive to select the telephone company that offers the lowest rates; rather, correctional departments have an incentive to reap the most profit by selecting the telephone company that provides the highest commission.

Continue reading at prisonpolicy.orgarrow1


U.S. Department of Justice: An Analysis of Non-violent Drug Offenders with Minimal Criminal Histories

Office of the U.S. Deputy Attorney General, 1994

Recent years have been marked by dramatic increases in the Federal prison population and in the number of Federal defendants sentenced for drug law violations. This report takes as its focus drug offenders with a minimal or no prior criminal history whose offense did not involve sophisticated criminal activity and whose offense behavior was not violent. We refer to this person as a “low-level” drug offender. This shorthand is adopted for purposes of convenience and not to suggest any policy conclusions or assessments about the seriousness or harm resulting from drug offenses. The purpose of the analysis is to gain a more solid foundation of knowledge to inform criminal justice policy decisions.

The study started with a group of offenders selected from computerized records used by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Bureau of Prisons. A sample was identified on the basis of automated information about prior convictions, violence in the current offense, and level of sophistication of the instant offense. However, once the sample was identified, more in-depth record searches (including paper records with considerably more detail and National Crime Information Center records) disclosed more specific information about criminal histories as well as the functional role individual offenders played in their offenses.

Continue reading at november.orgarrow1

“Sentencing enhancement zones” fail to protect children and worsen racial disparity in incarceration

Prison Policy Initiative, 2014

Most states have laws that are intended to protect children by creating enhanced penalties for various crimes committed within a certain distance of schools. These laws sound like a common-sense approach, but our research has shown that these laws do not work, will not work and have serious negative effects.

In Connecticut, for example, certain drug offenses committed within 1,500 feet of schools are punished with a longer sentence. The oringinal intent behind the law was noble: protect children from harmful activity by creating an incentive for bad activity to move elsewhere. The flaw is that the designated distance is too large. To create a safety zone around schools, the area to be protected needs to be small enough to incentivize moving illegal activity elsewhere. Imposing a higher penalty over an entire city or state by blanketing it in overlapping enhancement zones nullifies the legislatures’ effort to give schools special protection. Simply put, when a legislature says that every place is special, no place is special.

Continue reading at

Returning to Prison

John F. Wallerstedt, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 1, 1984

Recidivism generally refers to reincarceration or the return of released offenders to the custody of State correctional authorities. Similarly, a recidivism rate is the cumulative percentage of a prison-release population returned to prison during a specified followup period. The most important finding was a marked similarity in recidivism among these 14 States: Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. Close to one-third of State prisoners recidivated within 3 years, and one-quarter within 2 years or less. When reincarcerated recidivsts were compared according to their original offenses, property offenders were found more likely to return to prison (a median of 36.8 percent) than violent offenders (31.5 percent). The median recidivism rate among reporting States was the highest for robbery and theft. The lowest rate was for illicit drugs, homicide, forgery/fraud, embezzlement, and sexual assault. Broad patterns of the relationship between recidivism and age are indicated: the younger the age at release, the greater was the likelihood of being returned to prison before the end of the 3-year followup period. Data indicate that in some States a third or more recidivsts were returned for offenses committed after the completion of a supervision period. Additional studies should be undertaken to identify issues surrounding the high rates of recidivism among habitual perpetrators of certain property crimes, especially burglary and theft. Variations in the followup periods used by reporting States are noted, and the study methodology is described. Ten tables and 12 references are included.

Continue reading at bjs.govarrow1

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie

Prison Policy Initiative, 2014

Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? And do the 688,000 people released every year include those getting out of local jails? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of federal, state, local, and other types of confinement — and the data collectors that keep track of them — are so fragmented. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but definitional issues and incompatibilities make it hard to get the big picture for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks.

On the other hand, piecing together the available information offers some clarity. This briefing presents the first graphic we’re aware of that aggregates the disparate systems of confinement in this country, which hold more than 2.4 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

Continue reading on prisonpolicy.orgarrow1

A Living Death: Sentenced to Die Behind Bars for What?

ACLU Foundation, 2013

For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.

Continue reading at aclu.orgarrow1