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CDCR finds slight decline in recidivism within 3 year period for inmates released in 2018-19

Between July 2018, and June 2019, 36,086 individuals were released from state prisons, 41.9% of which went on to reoffend within a three-year period


Xavier Mascareñas/The Sacramento Bee/TNS

By Michaela Harris
Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released its latest recidivism report this month, finding that fewer individuals released in the 2018/19 fiscal year reoffended over a three-year period after being released from prison.

The department tracks formerly incarcerated individuals for three years following the date of their release. Recidivism rates are developed utilizing this three-year follow-up period which serves to analyze an individual’s arrests, convictions and returns to prison.

The COVID-19 pandemic was still active for two years of the follow-up period for 2018/19 releases and influenced statewide crime rates, court closures, and the temporary suspension of intakes and transfers to state prisons. Officials believe this likely influenced all three measures of recidivism.

Between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, 36,086 individuals were released from state prisons, 41.9% of which went on to reoffend within a three-year period. Reoffenders were almost equally split between misdemeanor and felony convictions, officials said. Statewide, recidivism rates for this group dropped by nearly 3% compared to those released in the 2017/18 fiscal year.

According to the report, nearly 80% of the release cohort were released to 12 counties. Los Angeles County alone accounts for the most releases each year, comprising 29.5% of the 2018/19 cohort.

Broken down by county of release, Yuba and Sutter counties maintained some of the highest rates of recidivism over a three-year period at 52% and 58% respectively. For Yuba County, 166 inmates were initially released to the county, and 138 were released to Sutter County.

However, the report warns that conviction rates by county of release should be interpreted with caution for several reasons. Individuals may leave the county to which they are released and go on to reconvict in a different county.

“When an individual is convicted in another county, the conviction is still associated with their original county of release (e.g., if an individual is released in Sacramento County and is subsequently convicted in Riverside County, for the purposes of this report, the new conviction is still associated with Sacramento County ),” the report said.

Of the 12 counties with the largest number of releases, Kern County has the highest three-year conviction rate of 53.7% while Alameda County had the lowest rate of 25.2%.

The state Department of Corrections’ Office of Research determined that the pandemic may be a substantial factor for reduction and the effects of various criminal justice reform efforts. It has also impacted variations on offender demographics and characteristics as well as changes in overall crime rates, officials said.

This report also marks the second year of data showing the effects of Proposition 57, a state law passed in 2016 that increased the number of non-violent individuals eligible for parole consideration. Prop 57 also authorized the Department of Corrections to award sentencing credits to inmates for rehabilitation, good behavior, or educational achievements.

According to officials, data points to lower rates of recidivism for those who earned these sentence credits for participating in and completing rehabilitative programs. Specifically, those who had any type of program credit had substantially lower recidivism rates than those with no enhanced credit earnings by a nearly 6% margin.

As data pertaining to Prop 57 and the pandemic become available, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will study these rates to better understand recidivism and the influence of policies and programming on recidivism outcomes.


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