The National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center today highlighted 11 states showing significant declines in their three-year return-to-prison rates.
“Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results,” an ongoing series highlighting states’ successes with lowering reoffense rates, tracked data from 11 state corrections agencies to reveal significant multiyear declines in reincarceration rates since their peak years of recidivism. The analysis of these sustained reductions also highlights the complex strategies at work in these states, including efforts supported by federal investment.
As a result of these strategies, diverse states—from New Jersey to South Dakota—are showing reductions in the number of people returning to prison. Along with the individual reductions in the 11 states highlighted, six of them—Florida, Illinois,Massachusetts, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—show that reductions in recidivism of 20 percent or more are achievable.
“Despite the progress we’ve made over the last two decades toward embracing recidivism reduction as a central mission of corrections agencies, some remain skeptical that these numbers can truly drop. This report is further evidence that they not only can decrease, but in many states, they are,” said Harold Clarke, director of Virginia’s Department of Corrections. “We’re proud that our latest three-year recidivism rates are lower than many other states, but anyone returning to our facilities after release is one too many. We have more work to do, and we are committed to learning, testing and tracking to ensure our approaches are effective.”
Along with the unique approaches happening in each state, the report also points to federal investments over the last decade that have accelerated state-level progress by funding programs that pursue research-based approaches to recidivism reduction. These approaches include: tracking data, precise use of risk and needs assessments, strengthening supervision, and connecting people to post-release services.
“Ohio’s three-year recidivism rate dropped 20 percent over the last seven years. That is progress we would not have achieved without the federal support,” said Tom Stickrath, superintendent of Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “This report shines a light on how federal funding provided through legislation like the Second Chance Act gives states the ability to learn from the work of others, apply research-driven approaches, and hold themselves accountable by tracking progress through data analysis.”
Passed with bipartisan support in 2008, the Second Chance Act has supported state, local, and tribal governments, as well as nonprofit and faith-based organizations, in efforts to improve outcomes for people returning from state and federal prisons, local jails, and juvenile facilities. Since 2009, the Second Chance Act has provided more than 900 grants across 49 states, impacting more than 160,000 people.
Those people and programs are highlighted in “Reentry Matters,” an additional publication also released today by the National Reentry Resource Center and the CSG Justice Center. The brief highlights 21 stories from programs across 19 states, all of which are funded by the Second Chance Act. The brief profiles the impact of the programs through both the practitioners who run them and the people that are impacted by them.
“Making a person’s transition from prison or jail to the community safe and successful is a critical public safety strategy, and these examples give us a window into how that’s been accomplished in a variety of communities across the country,” said Megan Quattlebaum, director of the CSG Justice Center. “These real-world case studies show that it is possible to take steps that reduce the likelihood that an individual will return to prison or jail, and should inspire leaders at the federal, state and local level that their work is making a difference.”