BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Home  |  Reentry Trends in the U.S.
Reentry Trends in the U.S.

Recidivism

The most recent BJS recidivism study estimated the recidivism patterns of about 400,000 persons released from state prisons in 30 states in 2005. The findings from the 2005 recidivism study cannot be directly compared to the ones below from the 1983 and 1994 studies. For information on the findings from the 2005 study and the factors that affect the comparability of the estimates from the BJS prisoner recidivism studies, see Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010, NCJ 244205, BJS web, April 2014.

 

In a 15 state study, over two-thirds of released prisoners were rearrested within three years

Rearrest of releases | Reconviction | Returned to prison


To view data, click on the chart.

Percent of released prisoners rearrested within 3 years, 1983 and 1994[D]

Two studies come closest to providing national recidivism rates for the United States. One tracked 108,580 state prisoners released from prison in 11 states in 1983. The other tracked 272,111 prisoners released from prison in 15 states in 1994. The prisoners tracked in these studies represent two-thirds of all the prisoners released in the United States for that year.

Rearrest within 3 years

  • An estiamted 67.5% of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within 3 years, an increase over the 62.5% found for those released in 1983.

  • The rearrest rate for property offenders, drug offenders, and public-order offenders increased significantly from 1983 to 1994. During that time, the rearrest rate increased:
  • - from 68.1% to 73.8% for property offenders
    - from 50.4% to 66.7% for drug offenders
    - from 54.6% to 62.2% for public-order offenders.

  • The rearrest rate for violent offenders remained relatively stable (59.6% in 1983, compared to 61.7% in 1994).

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Reconviction within 3 years

  • Overall, reconviction rates did not change significantly from 1983 to 1994. Among, prisoners released in 1983, 46.8% were reconvicted within 3 years compared to 46.9% among those released in 1994. From 1983 to 1994, reconviction rates remained stable for released:
  • - violent offenders (41.9% and 39.9%, respectively)
    - property offenders (53.0% and 53.4%, respectively)
    - public-order offenders (41.5% and 42.0%, respectively)

  • Among drug offenders, the rate of reconviction increased significantly, going from 35.3% in 1983 to 47.0% in 1994.

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Returned to prison within 3 years

  • The 1994 recidivism study estimated that within 3 years, 51.8% of prisoners released during the year were back in prison either because of a new crime for which they received another prison sentence, or because of a technical violation of their parole. This rate was not calculated in the 1983 study.

BJS Sources:
Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983, April, 1989
Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, June, 2002.


Related information

From BJS

Topical pages

National, State, and Federal correctional data in spreadsheets
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