The 36 months recidivism rates, when examined one year of releases at a time, range from 27.6% to 33.7% 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 including jail bed availability and judicial behavior. Statewide initiatives like truth-in-sentencing, increased use of mandatory prison terms, and inconsistent funding for inmate rehabilitative programs may also influence recidivism rates. For these reasons, 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 state's Criminal Justice Estimating Conference has noted declining prison admissions in recent years as a reason for the recent stabilization of the total prison population. This follows more than a decade of growth in the number of inmates Florida incarcerates.