Florida Department of Corrections Recidivism Report:
2011 Florida Prison Recidivism Study
The Florida Prison Recidivism Report is produced annually by the Bureau of Research and Data Analysis within the Florida Department of Corrections. The annual study aims to examine the issue of recidivism among Florida's released inmate population. While the use of recidivism as a performance indicator of the state's rehabilitative efforts can be debated, the analysis itself is of vital public importance. Given that 87% of inmates housed in Florida prisons today will one day be released back into our communities, those in charge of the state’s planning and budgeting need to know the likelihood that an inmate who is released today will one day return back to Florida’s prison system. More importantly, for the public and those charged with ensuring public safety, the state’s recidivism rate is an important measure of criminal activity caused by released prisoners.
When discussing recidivism rates, the factors that influence recidivism must be considered. For example, recidivism rates vary across age groups, racial/ethnic groups, and gender. In order to determine where and how to devote scarce correctional and community resources, we must identify which groups are most likely to fail when they are released from Florida’s prisons and which groups are likely to successfully re-enter society.
This study finds that the factors that influence Florida’s recidivism rate are generally consistent with existing research. A report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), shows the overall recidivism rate (return to prison for any reason within three years of release) for releases from 15 states participating in the study was approximately 52%.
It must be noted that, unlike most states, Florida paroles very few inmates and only about one third of released inmates have any supervision at all following their release. Since those who are supervised following release recidivate at higher rates than released inmates without supervision, it is important to remember that Florida’s recidivism rate may appear lower than another state due to these differences in release mechanisms.
When comparing recidivism rates across groups or programs, caution must be taken to ensure that the same parameters are considered. The key considerations include the definition of recidivism, the time-period of interest since release, methodology and calculation, characteristics of the respective groups, and the relative sample size of the groups or programs being compared.
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