Two-Thirds of Criminals Released from Prison are Rearrested within 3 Years

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Recidivism among prisoners is still quite common in the United States, with 67.8% winding up back behind bars within three years of being released.


A new study from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the first such federal survey in nearly 20 years, revealed an even higher recidivism rate within five years of inmates being let out: 76.9%. The research also determined that of those prisoners who were rearrested within five years of release, 36.8% were arrested within the first six months and 56.7% within the first year.


The DOJ’s findings showed higher return rates than a 2011 study by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project. That report said 45% of prisoners released from prison in 1999 and 43% of those freed in 2004 were reincarcerated within three years, according to Ted Gest of The Crime Report.


Gest noted that the Pew numbers were lower because that study included only those returned to prison, while the DOJ study included all who were rearrested.


Other findings from the DOJ study included:


82% of property offenders returned to prison within five years, compared to 77% of drug offenders, 74% of public order offenders and 71% of violent offenders.

African-Americans had the highest recidivism rate (81%) within five years of release, compared with 75% for Hispanics and 73% for whites.


The DOJ study involved 405,000 prisoners released in 2005 by 30 states: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 (U.S. Department of Justice) (pdf)

Most Ex-Inmates Arrested Within Three Years of Release, Says New Federal Study (by Ted Gest, Crime Report)


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