Some criminal justice experts say a federal report on prison recidivism is misleading.
Critics who circulated the report online argued that the conventional wisdom about recidivism in America is flatly wrong.
In reality, two out of three people who serve time in prison never come back, and only 11 percent come back multiple times, according to a Nov. 2015 article in Slate.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report in April 2014 covered data from 30 states, including California. It estimated recidivism patterns of 404,638 persons – about a fourth from California- released from 2005-2010, from state prisons.
Prisoners released within three years were re-arrested at 67.8 percent, and 76.6 percent were re-arrested within five-years, according to the report.
An estimated 28.6 percent of inmates were arrested for a violent offense within five-years; 1.7 percent were for rape or sexual assault and 23.0 percent for assault.
The majority of prisoners released were arrested for a public order offense, like failure to appear, obstruction of justice or a legal response to probation or parole violations.
An estimated 39.9 percent were arrested for some other public order offenses, which included drunkenness, disorderly conduct, liquor law violation or a family-related offense.
By the fifth year, the recidivism rates for violent or drug crimes were lower for Whites and Hispanics than for Blacks.
The recidivism rates for males were higher than females, regardless of the incarceration offense or the recidivism period, according to the report.
“Following Incarceration, Most Released Offenders Never Return to Prison”
Slate staff writer Leon Neyfakh wrote the article on the federal study, citing a recent paper published in the journal “Crime & Delinquency,” under the title “Following Incarceration, Most Released Offenders Never Return to Prison.”
The paper was produced by researchers at a public policy firm, Abt Associates in Cambridge, Mass.
Neyfakh highlighted a phone conversation with William Rhodes from Abt in his article.
The discrepancy between Abt’s findings and the federal report, according to Rhodes, is that the BJS used a sample population in which repeat offenders were overrepresented.
“In truth what you have is two groups of offenders: those who repeatedly do crimes and accumulate in prisons because they get re-captured, re-convicted and re-sentenced; and those who are much lower risk, and most of them will go to prison once and not come back,” Rhodes said.