Day 15 – Decreasing Prisoner Recidivism

Recidivism is an important issue for the American criminal justice system today. We see offenders cycle in and out of prisons and jails, and this has important implications for public safety and the stability of American communities. Ninety-five percent of inmates in state and federal prisons will be released eventually, and studies have consistently shown high rates of recidivism.

A Bureau of Justice (BOJ) report found that 83 percent of prisoners released in 2005 were rearrested at least once within nine years of their release. That means that five out of every six of the prisoners released will be arrested for a new crime. Over two-thirds of released prisoners were arrested again within 3 years and over three-fourths were arrested again within 5 years.

Across the country, more than 600,000 Americans are released from prisons and jails every year, and more than 4.5 million are serving a community supervision sentence. To reduce the $40 billion spent by state governments annually for corrections without compromising public safety, it is critical to identify programs and services that improve outcomes for released prisoners.

Reentry is complex—the characteristics of those being released vary widely in terms of risks, motivations, and needs. Nonetheless, research indicates well-designed reentry programs can reduce recidivism. Reentry Needs:

  • Employment: stable employment can reduce recidivism rates
  • Physical and behavioral health: many have chronic health and/or mental problems
  • Housing: many released eventually become homeless
  • Social support: need for mentorship and peer support
  • Additional needs: I.D. and important documents, transportation, food, clothing, child care, legal assistance, bank account

If you would like to donate to an effective local re-entry program, a good place to start is by checking out The Lionheart Foundation for organizations in your state.