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Report Links Recidivism Decline to Investments in Treatment, Training and Housing

A study brief from the Council or State Governments (CSG) revealed that the states with the greatest reductions in recidivism in recent years have done so—under the guidance of the federal Second Chance Act—by investing revenue in treatment. job training and housing opportunities for former offenders released to community supervision.

The brief. released in September 2012 by the CSG's National Reentry Resource Center, reported sharp reductions in recidivism rates for offenders who were released from prison in 2005 and 2007 from prisons in Kansas. Michigan. Mississippi. Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Vermont. The three-year post-release rates are considered among the most recent data available.

Michigan reported that recidivism for prisoners released in 2005 was 40 % and that for 2007 the rate was 33%, resulting in an overall decline of 18%—the greatest reduction of any state in the brief—since Michigan launched a new reentry initiative in 2003.

The Michigan Prisoner Reentry program targets former offenders who are at greatest risk of failing on parole, and it allocates $50 million annually to provide community-based housing for parolees, subsidize employers who hive them, and to maintain funding for transition support services. Michigan's Department of Corrections says that program participants are 38% less likely to return to prison.

"As policymakers are under tremendous pressure to cut spending wherever possible, Republican and Democratic elected officials alike have made the case that improved efforts to reduce re-offense rates among people released from prison would save money and increase public safety." the CSG said in its brief. "Their position is backed by an extensive and compelling body of research that demonstrates the impact that policies, practices, and programs can have in reducing the likelihood that someone released from prison or jail will reoffend."

In Kansas, where the overall recidivism rate has fallen 15% since 2004—  when lawmakers created the state's Criminal Justice Recodification. Rehabilitation and Restoration Committee—parole officers have been trained to "connect individuals in need of treatment and services to community-based resources," the brief said. State officials also partnered with local communities that are home to the largest numbers of returning former prisoners to connect them more effectively to housing and workforce development services. And in 2007, Kansas legislators also approved a performance-based grant program for community corrections agencies to reduce parole revocations, and they also established a 60-day earned time credit "For successful completion of educational, vocational, and treatment programs.

Texas reduced its recidivism rate by 11% with 1,212 fewer ex-offenders returning to prison after being released in 2007. That year, the Texas Legislature, according to the brief, "significantly increased funding to expand the capacity of existing treatment programs and alternatives to incarceration," such as transitional housing—or halfway houses—for parolees and outpatient substance abuse treatment for probationers.

Oregon and Vermont, meanwhile, with 8% and 6% declines in recidivism rates, respectively, have done so by focusing in-prison treatment programs on high-risk individuals, among other policy improvements. Oregon's counseling model, the CSG reported, "has been adjusted to give counselors smaller caseloads of medium- and high-risk individuals" who benefit from the extra attention. Vermont has established an entire facility for male offenders with substance-abuse treatment needs.

According to Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project, which contributed data to the CSG study, states have a financial incentive to reduce re-offenses.

"Reducing recidivism can produce a big payoff," he said. "If states across the country could reduce their recidivism rates by just 10%, they could save more than half a billion dollars combined in one year alone in averted prison costs."

Source: Council of State Governments Justice Center, National Reentry Resource Center. "States Report Reductions in Recidivism," September 2012:

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