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Results from Seven States Shows Program-Driven Recidivism Reduction

The National Reentry Resource Center has published a new study of seven states showing that with proper pre-release programming, recidivism rates can be reduced by a significant amount.  The study, which covered the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin for the years 2007 and 2010, showed a decrease of recidivism in those states from 5.8% to 19.3% during that time period.

According to the study, which was published in June 2014, “Reducing recidivism is about changing the behavior of people who have committed crimes in the past (and) is also about changing the business of the people who supervise, treat, and support people who are incarcerated and released to the community.”   The study calls for public safety officials, “to look beyond reincarceration rates, which are driven by two factors: people returning to prison because of a sentence for a new crime (or) people returning to prison because they violated a condition of their community supervision.”

The states taking part in the study implemented a variety of programs, all driven by the understanding that it is everyone’s interest to reduce reincarceration for minor probation or supervision infractions to concentrate on those recommitting serious crimes.

Among the program used were the following: investing funding in community based treatment, including mental health and substance abuse; promoting continuity of care from incarceration in the community where the released individual will reside;  tailoring post-release supervision to include positive-motivation techniques and concentrating on an “individual’s readiness for change and commitment to programming; and providing incentives for participation in programs designed to reduce reoffending, including cognitive-behavior therapy, mental heal, substance-abuse treatment, educational classes, and vocational training.

Many experts term these new programs, “Justice Reinvestment,” which involves a redirection of resources away from mere confinement to strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.  The U.S. Justice Department, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and other organizations have supported these initiatives in a total of 31 states, including those that participated in this study.

Proper data collection and data sharing are believed to be very important in making adjustments to policies that don’t work and changing them so that they do work.  According to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, “We think one of the most important parts is the data collection and evidence-based practices, essentially making sure we’re spending money where results are predictable and the best results will be achieved.”

Of course, the true measure of success is whether or not those individuals receiving the new training commit fewer crimes after they are released, and according to the study,, “Data immediately available from Georgia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin describing felony conviction rates…suggest success in changing the behavior of people release from prison.”  The study, however, suggested that difference in data-collection of recidivism in other states not participating in the study suggested caution in projecting possible success without further investigation..

Source:, June, 2014.

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