New report paints mixed picture of recidivism in Pennsylvania prisons | State
(Photo via the Philadelphia Tribune)
New report paints mixed picture Commonwealth efforts to address recidivism among those released from Pennsylvania state prisons, with officials pointing to incremental progress that has been made to prevent people from returning to custody in the state.
Pennsylvania’s recidivism rate, or the percentage of people who are re-arrested or return to prison, has remained stable for the past 15 years, according to the new report. Department of Corrections data released Wednesday. About two-thirds of people released from state prison are either re-arrested or re-incarcerated within three years of their release.
Recidivism among those released from state custody currently costs taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion a year, Penitentiary department said in a statement. But even a 5% cut would save the agency about $1.9 million a year.
The new report is an update of a 2013 report that looked at data from 2008. That year, the state’s recidivism rate was 62 percent. In the new report, the rate rose slightly to 64%.
But officials were quick to point out that “looking at recidivism only in terms of re-arrest or re-incarceration is like measuring school performance only by the dropout rate.”
“Rehabilitation isn’t always a straight line, and researchers are beginning to recognize the benefits of incremental progress,” Bret Bucklenthe director of the Department of Corrections Office of Planning, Research and Statisticssaid in a statement.
Among the report’s findings:
- “Recidivism rates have steadily declined among blacks, but increased significantly among whites. The latest estimates now show a roughly equal recidivism rate for blacks and whites.
- “Recurrence rates are higher for those: 1) with a diagnosis of a substance use disorder, especially for opioids, 2) with a mental health condition, 3) assessed as high risk, 4 ) with a low level of education, 5) with a longer criminal history, 6) who commit more prison misconduct and 7) who receive fewer prison visits.
- “Longer prison stays are generally associated with lower recidivism rates.
- “Property offenders have the highest recidivism rates. Sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rates,”
- “More than half (54%) of parolees reincarcerated within three years of release are reincarcerated for a technical parole violation,” and
- “Pennsylvania’s recidivism ranking varies depending on the specific definition of recidivism, but in general is lower than national averages and lower than many other jurisdictions,” the researchers found.
Officials said the new report uses a metric known as “withdrawal,” which measures success after incarceration rather than failure. They add that it is “a concept that is gaining ground in academic circles, and a recent national report [pointing] borderline recidivism as a stand-alone measure used by correctional agencies.
According to Penitentiary department the new report includes three measures of letting go of crime: “deceleration (slowing down the rate of offending), de-escalation (reducing the severity of offending) and cessation (stopping offending altogether)”.
Nine out of 10 reentrants “comply with one or more of these measures after leaving prison,” the researchers found.
“Furthermore, in response to criticism that traditional measures inflate recidivism through the overrepresentation of high-risk repeat offenders, the report also examines the data in a way that corrects for the disproportionate impact of a relatively small number of repeat offenders,” the report authors wrote. “Using the adjusted numbers, the DOC the three-year recidivism rate increases from about two-thirds to about 50%. »
The report also assesses the success of various state efforts to reduce recidivism, such as interim sentences, which have the most impact, and drug treatment, which had “no impact,” the report says. .
“Reducing recidivism, preventing delinquency and keeping people out of prison are goals everyone can agree on,” acting Secretary of Corrections George Little said in the agency’s statement. “The DOC publishes this report in the interest of transparency and collaboration, as we work to build safer communities.
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