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States Report Reductions in Recidivism

December 4, 2012

States Report Reductions in Recidivism (PDF)

Source: National Council of State Governments

In many jurisdictions, state and local government officials have intensified their efforts to reduce recidivism. As policymakers are under tremendous pressure to cut spending wherever possible, Republican and Democratic elected officials alike have made the case that improved efforts to reduce reoffense rates among people released from prison would save money and increase public safety. Their position is backed by an extensive and compelling body of research that demonstrates the impact that policies, practices, and programs can have in reducing the likelihood that someone released from prison or jail will reoffend.

The report of the 2010 National Summit on Justice Reinvestment and Public Safety highlighted four principles that the research reflects are critical to any effort to reduce recidivism: focusing resources on individuals most likely to reoffend; investing in research-driven, evidence-based programs; implementing effective community supervision policies and practices; and applying place-based approaches.

Many states are now presenting data that indicate declines in statewide recidivism rates for adults released from prison. This brief highlights a cross-section of states with robust, current data that reflect such improvements. It is not a comprehensive research report, nor is it an evaluation of any state’s recidivism efforts, assessing how changes in the recidivism rate in each state correlate to particular changes in policy or practice.

Instead, this brief summarizes recent data provided to the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center by a select group of states that carefully monitor changes in their recidivism rates. For each state highlighted, this brief also reviews strategies that, according to their own qualitative assessments, these states believe have contributed to the decline in their recidivism rates.

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