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Usdoj Recidivism Study 1994

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Introduction

OVERVIEW
Rate of Recidivism of State
Prisoners Released in 1994
Rearrest Rates by
Most Serious
Offense for which
Released
All charges

67.5%

Violent Offenses
Homicide

61.7%

Kidnapping

59.4%

Rape
Other sexual
assault

46.0%

Robbery

70.2%

Assault

65.1%

Other violent

51.7%

40.7%

41.4%

Property Offenses
Burglary

73.8%

Larceny/Theft
Motor Vehicle
Theft

74.6%

Arson

57.7%

Fraud

66.3%

Stolen Property

77.4%

Other Property

71.1%

Drug Offenses
Possession

66.7%

Trafficking

64.2%

Other/unspecified

75.5%

Public-Order
Offenses
Weapons

62.2%

DUI

51.5%

Other public order

65.1%

Other Offenses

64.7%

74.0%

78.8%

67.5%

70.2%

Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics
Recidivism Study

In June 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a study of recidivism in 272,111
prisoners released in 1994, representing two-thirds of all prisoners released in the
United States that year. The study followed former inmates of 15 states for the
three-year period following release. Four measures of recidivism were used: rearrest,
reconviction, resentence to prison, and return to prison with or without a new sentence.
These measures of recidivism included both “in-State” and “out-of-State” recidivism.
This study serves as the second study of recidivism conducted at the national level.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics published the first study of recidivism during April 1989.

Results
Overall Results
Rearrest - 67.5% of released prisoners were rearrested for a new crime within
3 years of release.
Reconviction - 46.9% were reconvicted in State or Federal court for a new
crime.
Resentence - 25.4% were resentenced to a State or Federal prison for a new
crime.
Return to prison with or without a new prison sentence - 51.8% were back in
prison for a new prison sentence (25.4%) or a technical violation (26.4%).
Results by Offense Type and Severity
Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates included those convicted of
robbery (70.2%), burglary (74.0%), larceny (74.6%), motor vehicle theft
(78.8%), stolen property (77.4%), and illegal weapons (70.2%).
Released prisoners with the lowest rearrest rates included those convicted of
homicide (40.7%), rape (46.0%), other sexual assault (41.4%), and DUI (51.5%).
61.7% of offenders sentenced for violence were arrested for a new offense,
though not necessarily another violent offense.
2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape
1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for
homicide
Property offenders had the highest rearrest rate (73.8%) followed by released
drug offenders (66.7%), and public-order offenders (62.2%).
Recidivism Rates by Length of Time
Nearly two-thirds of all the recidivism during the 3-year period occurred within
the first year.
Within the first year of release, 29.9% of the offenders were rearrested, 21.5%
were reconvicted, and 10.4% had returned to prison for a new crime.
Results by Prior Record and Sentence Length
70% of the discharged prisoners had 5 or more prior arrests, half had 2 or more
prior convictions, and almost 44% had served a prior prison sentence. Prisoners
with longer prior records were more likely to be rearrested than those with
shorter records. Prisoners with just 1 prior arrest have a 40.6% arrest rate within
3 years. With 2 priors, the percentage rearrested is 47.5%. With 3 it increased
to 55.2%. With additional priors, it continues to rise, reaching 82.1% among
released prisoners with more than 15 prior arrests.
The number of past arrests a prisoner has also provides a good predictor of how
quickly that prisoner will resume his or her criminality after being released.
The average prison sentence length was nearly 5 years. On average, the
prisoners were released after serving 38% of their sentence (21 months). No
evidence was found that spending more time in prison raises the recidivism rate.
The evidence was mixed regarding whether serving more time reduces
recidivism.
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Results by Demographic Characteristics
Men were more likely to be rearrested (68.4%) than women (57.6%), blacks
(72.9%) more likely
than whites (62.7%), and non-Hispanics (71.4%) more likely
than Hispanics (64.6%).
Younger prisoners were more likely to be rearrested than older ones. Over 80% of those under age 18
were rearrested, compared to 45.3% of those 45 and
older.
Number of Crimes Committed
The 67.5% (N = 183,675) of releases rearrested were charged with 744,480 new crimes, an average of
4 new crimes each. More than 100,500 of these new charges were for violent offenses.
Results by Location
An estimated 7.6% of all released prisoners were rearrested for a new crime in a State other than the
one that released them. Of the 744,480 new charges during the 3-year follow-up period, 688,720 were
committed in the same State that released the prisoner and 55,760 were committed in other states.

Comparison of Recidivism Rates for Prisoners Released in 1983 and 1994
The April 1989 BJS study examined 108,580 prisoners released from prison in 11 states for the 3-year period
following their release in 1983. All 11 are among the States included in the present study. The overall rearrest
rate rose significantly in the second study.
62.5% of the prisoners released in 1983 were rearrested, whereas in 1994, the figure was 67.5%.
There was a significant rise from 1983 to 1994 in the rearrest rate for released property offenders,
released drug offenders, and released public-order offenders. There was no increase in the rearrest
rate for released violent offenders.
Reconviction rates remained constant from 1983 to 1994, 46.8% and 46.9%, respectively. The only
significant change in reconviction rates was the increase for drug offenders, from 35.3% in 1983 to
47.0% in 1994.
The complete June 2002 report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Justice Programs, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994" is available at the BJS World Wide
Web Internet site: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs

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