California’s recidivism rate drops to 61%
California’s recidivism rate has decreased for the third consecutive year, dropping to 61% last year, according to the 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report released by the Department of Corrections.
Since 2010, the state’s recidivism rate – or the percentage of parolees who returned to prison within the first three years of their release – has declined by 6.5%, from 67.5% in 2010 to 61% in 2013.
“The continuing improvement in the state’s recidivism rate is encouraging news for all Californians,” said Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “When former offenders are leading productive, law abiding lives, our communities are safer. As we move forward and both CDCR and counties utilize state funds to invest more in evidence-based rehabilitation efforts, I’m confident we will see recidivism rates continue to decline.”
Although the 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report did not directly measure the effects of the public safety “realignment” on recidivism rates, a report released by CDCR last month showed that the return to prison rate within the first year of release dropped dramatically after realignment took effect in October 2011.
According to the 2013 Realignment Report, the return to prison rate of parolees within the first year of their release dropped from 47% before realignment to just above 7% after realignment. (In the past, more than half of the recidivism were attributable to technical parole violations.)
“The low number of parole violators being returned to prison is another indicator that Realignment is working as intended. The vast majority of all parole violators are now sent to county jails instead of prison,” according to the Realignment Report.
Furthermore, the re-arrest rate within the first year of release has decreased by 2.7 after realignment, down to 56.2%.
The conviction rate, however, remained steady at about 21% after realignment. Most of the new felony convictions were for property and drug crimes.
The public safety realignment (AB 109) was approved by the legislature to fix California’s chronic and severe prison overcrowding.
Two class action lawsuits – Plata and Coleman – were filed against the state, alleging that inmates were routinely denied necessary medical and mental health care because of the serious overcrowding and, thus, violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. In 2009, a three-judge panel ordered the state to cap its prison population at 137.5% of design capacity – or a reduction of about 34,200 inmates – within two years. The federal court order was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2011.
To reduce the prison population, realignment shifted responsibilities (and funding) of incarcerating and rehabilitating non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offender (“non-non-non”) felons to county jails. In addition, realignment also required that nearly all parole violators serve time in county jails instead of state prison. Only parolees convicted of a new crime would return to prison. The state would then focus on incarcerating and supervising the paroles of serious, violent, and sexual offenders.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Fewer parolees returned to California state prisons after Realignment
- WhatTheFolly.com: California attempts to fix broken prison system with ‘realignment’
- WhatTheFolly.com: California asks court for 3-year extension to comply with prison population cap
- WhatTheFolly.com: California’s recidivism rate drops but remains one of the nation’s highest
- cdcr.ca.gov: New report shows California’s recidivism rate declined again this year
- cdcr.ca.gov: 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report (PDF)
- cdcr.ca.gov: 2013 Realignment Report (PDF)