The 36 months recidivism rates, when examined one year of releases at a time, range from 31% to 34% in the five years for which three-year rates can be computed.
Recidivism rates are certainly affected by factors outside the influence of the Department of Corrections, such as unemployment, crime rates, and local criminal justice issues such as jail bed availability and judicial behavior. Statewide initiatives such as truth-in-sentencing, increased use of mandatory prison terms, and inconsistent funding for inmate rehabilitative programs may also influence recidivism rates. For this reason, recidivism rates cannot be used as the only measure of operational performance for the prison system. It is a measure of a multitude of societal issues working for and against the released inmate, before he ever receives a prison sentence and after he is released.
The downward trend in recidivism rates follow similar trends in crime rates, arrests, and felony filings. The recent Criminal Justice Estimating Conference has also noted declining prison admissions in recent years.