Report: 6 in 10 released inmates back in jail or arrested again within 3 years

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Corrections Secretary John Wetzel today announced the release of the Department of Corrections’ 2013 Recidivism Report.

“To get a true picture of whether our state prison system is meeting its goal of reducing future crime, we need to look at more than just the reincarceration of an individual,” Wetzel said. “We need to look at rearrests as well to see the whole picture of how and when individuals come into contact again with the criminal justice system.”

This groundbreaking and comprehensive study represents the keystone of the Corbett Corrections Reform initiative, Wetzel said. It establishes a “new normal” in the state’s criminal justice system by focusing on reducing crime by studying reincarceration and rearrest rates.

“The ‘new normal’ is to expect and require quantifiable results based upon a corrections system that helps offenders to help themselves and a system that is based on research rather than anecdotal stories and innuendo,” Wetzel said.

In the report, recidivism is defined three ways:

-Rearrest – the first instance of arrest after an inmate is released from state prison.

-Reincarceration – the first instance of returning to state prison after an inmate is released from state prison.

-Overall Recidivism – the first instance of any type of rearrest or reincarceration after an inmate is released from state prison.

Highlights from the report, which includes statistical information going back to 2000, include:

  • Approximately 6 in 10 released inmates recidivate, meaning they are either rearrested or reincarcerated within three years of release from prison.
  • Overall recidivism rates have been stable for the last 10 years.
  • The statewide three-year rearrest rate was 50 percent for inmates released from state prison in 2008.
  • The statewide three-year reincarceration rate was 43 percent for inmates released from state prison in 2008.
  • Approximately 10 percent of all police arrests in Pennsylvania involve released state inmates.
  • Per capita arrest rates for violent crimes are 14 times higher among released inmates compared to the general public.
  • Rearrest rates appear to be higher in urban areas, whereas reincarceration rates appear to be higher in rural areas.
  • Individuals most likely to reoffend appear to be property offenders. Individuals least likely to reoffend are those incarcerated for driving under the influence of intoxicants, rape and arson.
  • More than half of those who return to prison do so within the first year after release, which is by far the highest risk period for returning to prison.
  • Younger offenders are more likely to recidivate than older offenders.
  • A released inmate who has 10 or more prior arrests is greater than 6 times more likely to recidivate than a released inmate with no prior arrest history other than the arrest for the current stay in prison.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all reincarcerations within three years of release from prison are for technical parole violations. Nearly three-fourths of rearrests within three years of release from prison are for less serious (Part II) offenses.
  • The Department of Corrections can save taxpayers $44.7 million annually by reducing the one-year reincarceration rate by 10 percentage points.  It also can save $16.5 million annually by reducing recidivist admissions by 10 percentage points.

Also included in this report are recidivism statistics for community corrections centers.  The last analysis of the community corrections system was in 2009 and was conducted by Dr. Edward Latessa of the University of Cincinnati.

“We know from this updated analysis that we have a lot of work to do to improve outcomes in our community corrections system,” Wetzel said.  “Fortunately, many of the legislative changes accomplished through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative are specifically targeted toward improving this system. Again, this report sets the baseline for going forward, as we focus the community corrections system around performance-based recidivism reduction outcomes.”

Highlights of the report specific to community corrections are:

  • One-year rearrest rates of offenders who were paroled directly home in 2005 and 2006 were lower than those paroled to a community corrections center; however, from 2008 to 2011, rearrest rates were higher for those paroled directly home.
  • One-year reincarceration rates of offenders released from 2005 to 2011 who were paroled directly home were consistently lower than those paroled to a community corrections center.

To view the report in its entirety, visit


  • Rodney

    Let's see can't get a decent job because of criminal record. Have to pay for everything. Or commit crime get caught get 3 nutritious meals a day, clothing, shelter, cable tv and other entertainment, exercise, free health care better than most Americans. Maybe we should give them internet and put smart tv's in every cell maybe add the porn channels for good behavior, beer night, or legalize marajuanna for inmates only of course we would pick up the tab why not. We can do more!

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