A useful way to display recidivism rates is to graph the total percentage of recidivists over the time since release from prison, creating a recidivism rate curve. The chart below provides an example.
This chart displays the general recidivism rate for all offenders released since July 1993. The lower axis indicates the number of months (1-78) since release from prison. The side axis shows the percentage of inmates who recidivated. The graphed curve marks the percentage of total inmates released who reoffended over time.
For example, the standard recidivism rate (33.8%) is the value on the recidivism rate curve at 24 months after release. For convenience, recidivism rates at selected follow-up periods are noted on the chart: 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 60, and 72 months after release.
This chart shows that recidivism rates increase most quickly immediately after release and grow more slowly as the time since release increases. In the first six months after release the recidivism rate grows to 14.1%, but between 24 and 36 months after release the rate grows only by 6.4%.
For information about what influences recidivism rates see Factors Affecting Recidivism Rates. For information about recidivism rates based on measures other than conviction for a new offense see Recidivism Rates Based on Rearrest.