Recidivism rates for this report are calculated by measuring the time between prison release and the date a new offense is committed. These reoffense dates are the result of a conviction for a new crime. Scientific studies have used two other types of data to measure recidivism: arrest and return to prison. Each of these types of data has merit for measuring recidivism for particular purposes, and each has limitations as a data source. For example, arrest data are useful for focusing on how fast and often released inmates have contact with the criminal justice system; but an arrest alone does not mean a released inmate has committed a new serious offense. Return to prison data are useful for analyzing the impact recidivism has on corrections resources, but some inmates return only for noncriminal violations of supervision conditions and less serious new offenses may not result in reincarceration. Generally, recidivism rates are highest when measured by rearrest and lowest when measured by return to prison. The Department uses reoffense (reconviction) data to measure recidivism because it captures only new serious offenses and all such offenses.
This chart displays general recidivism rates for all inmates released since July 1993, as measured by rearrest and reconviction. For convenience, recidivism rates at selected follow-up periods are noted on the chart. This chart shows that rearrest and reconviction rates follow similar patterns, although rearrest occurs far more frequently than reconviction. For more information on the data and methodology used to calculate rearrest rates for this report see the Technical Appendix.