Study: 4 In 10 Offenders Return To Prison Within 3 Years Of Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than four in 10 offenders return to state prison within three years of their release, according to a study released this week by the Pew Center on the States.

According to the examination of state corrections data, nearly 43 percent of prisoners released in 2004 and 45 percent of those released in 1999, were re-incarcerated within three years, either for committing a new crime or violating the terms of their parole.


In New Jersey, 48.2 percent of the 14,034 individuals released in 1999 were back in prison by 2002. The recidivism rate improved to 42.7 percent for those released in 2004.

State corrections spending is one of the fastest growing budget areas, quadrupling over the past two decades. States spend more than $50 billion per year on corrections, driven by prison expenditures.

“There’s been an enormous escalation in prison spending but a barely noticeable impact on the national recidivism rate,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. “Some states like Texas have begun to shift dollars into strategies for nonviolent offenders that cost less than prison and are more effective at stopping the revolving door. These troubling national figures should accelerate the trend toward policies that will give taxpayers a better public safety return on their massive expenditure on incarceration.”

The full report, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons, is available on the Pew Charitable Trusts website.

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