BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT BJS
SUNDAY, June 2, 2002 202/307-0784

TWO-THIRDS OF FORMER STATE PRISONERS REARRESTED FOR SERIOUS NEW CRIMES

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Sixty-seven percent of former inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at least one serious new crime within the following three years, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. This was a rearrest rate 5 percent higher than that among prisoners released during 1983.

State prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were those who had been incarcerated for stealing motor vehicles (79 percent), possessing or selling stolen property (77 percent), larceny (75 percent), burglary (74 percent), robbery (70 percent) or those using, possessing or trafficking in illegal weapons (70 percent).

Those with the lowest rearrest rates were former inmates who had been in prison for homicide (41 percent), sexual assault (41 percent), rape (46 percent) or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (51 percent).

About 1 percent of the released prisoners who had served time for murder were arrested for another homicide within three years, and about 2 percent of the rapists were arrested for another rape within that period.

Within three years, 52 percent of the 272,111 released prisoners were back in prison either because of a new crime or because they had violated their parole conditions (e.g., failed a drug test, missed a parole office appointment).

Men were more likely to be rearrested than were women (68 percent, compared to 58 percent), blacks more likely than whites (73 percent vs. 63 percent) and non-Hispanics more than Hispanics (71 percent vs. 65 percent). Younger prisoners and those with longer records were also more likely to be rearrested.

Post-prison recidivism was strongly related to arrest history. Among prisoners with one arrest prior to their release, 41 percent were rearrested. Of those with two prior arrests, 47 percent were rearrested. Of those with three earlier arrests, 55 percent were rearrested. Among those with more than 15 prior arrests, that is about 18 percent of all released prisoners, 82 percent were rearrested within the three-year period.

The 272,111 inmates had accumulated more than 4.1 million arrest charges prior to their current imprisonment and acquired an additional 744,000 arrest charges in the 3 years following their discharge in 1994 - an average of about 18 criminal arrest charges per offender during their criminal careers. These charges included almost 21,000 homicides, 200,000 robberies, 50,000 rapes and sexual assaults and almost 300,000 assaults.

Almost 8 percent of all released prisoners were rearrested for a new crime in a state other than the one that released them. These alleged offenders were charged with committing 55,760 new crimes in states other than the imprisoning state within the three-year period. New York, Arizona and California had the most arrests of out-of-state offenders in this study.

The data were from the largest recidivism study ever conducted in the United States, which tracked prisoners discharged in 15 states representing two-thirds of all state prisoners released in 1994. They were 91 percent male, 50 percent white, 48 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic (of any race) and 44 percent were younger than 30 years old.

Most of them had been in prison for felonies: 22 percent for a violent offense (such as murder, rape, sexual assault or robbery), 33 percent for a serious property offense (mostly burglary, motor vehicle theft or fraud), 33 percent for a drug offense (primarily drug trafficking or possession) and 10 percent for public order offenses (mainly drunk driving or weapons crimes).

Most former convicts were rearrested shortly after getting out of prison: 30 percent within six months, 44 percent within a year, 59 percent within two years and 67 percent by the end of three years.

The study findings are based upon the prison and criminal records of an estimated 272,111 discharged prisoners in 15 states who were tracked through fingerprints records made at various points of contact with the justice system, both within the state in which they had served time and other states to which they traveled.

The BJS special report, "Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994" (NCJ-193427) was written by BJS statisticians Patrick A. Langan and David J. Levin. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277. After the release date, this document can be accessed at:

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1134

Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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BJS02080
E-mail: stu@ojp.usdoj.gov
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
E-mail: stu219@hotmail.com



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