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Publication Offenders Returning to Federal Prison, 1986-97

William J. Sabol, Ph.D., William P. Adams, Barbara Parthasarathy, Yan Yuan, Urban Institute

September 1, 2000    NCJ 182991

Describes offenders returning to Federal prison within 3 years of release and their time served upon return. Comparisons are made of offenders returning for technical violations of supervision conditions and offenders returning for new crimes. Additionally, the Special Report presents the return rate for offenders sentenced pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act and offenders sentenced pursuant to sentencing law and policies in effect prior to the implementation of the Sentencing Reform Act.


  • The proportion of offenders returning to Federal prison within 3 years increased from 11.4% of those released during 1986 to 18.6% of those released during 1994.
  • 60% returned following a technical violation of release conditions, 30% following a conviction for a new offense, and 10% for other violations.
  • Offenders convicted of a violent offense returned to prison at a higher rate (32% of releases) than those convicted of a property (17%), public-order (15%), or drug (13%) offense.

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