NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Two-Thirds of Released Inmates Rearrested

June 3, 2002

Justice Department statistics reveal that 67 percent of inmates released from state prisons in 1994 were rearrested for at least one new, serious crime within three years -- 5 percentage points higher than among prisoners released in 1983.

  • The recidivism rate for motor vehicle theft was 79 percent, 77 percent for possessing stolen property, 75 percent for larceny, 74 percent for burglary, and 70 percent for those using, possessing or trafficking in illegal weapons.
  • Forty-one percent of those rearrested had been imprisoned for homicide, 46 percent for rape, and 51 percent for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • But only about 1 percent of the released prisoners who served time for murder were rearrested for murder -- and just 2 percent of rapists were reincarcerated within three years for another rape.
  • Men were more likely than women to be rearrested, blacks more likely than whites, and non-Hispanics more likely than Hispanics to be placed behind bars again.

Post-prison recidivism, the report said, was strongly related to the number of previous arrests the inmate had. The 272,111 offenders discharged in 1994 had accumulated 4.1 million arrest charges before their most recent imprisonment and another 744,000 charges within 3 years of release.

The information -- the latest available -- comes from the largest recidivism study ever conducted in the U.S.

Source: Jerry Seper, "U.S. Rearrest Rate Leapt to 67 Percent in 1994," Washington Times, June 3, 2002; " Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994," June 2, 2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.


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