The share of people returning to state prison three years after being released—the most common measure of recidivism—dropped by nearly a quarter over a recent seven-year period, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts of federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data on prisoners released in 2005 and 2012.
Pew undertook this research to compile and make public the most current multistate data on recidivism trends. Determining causal relationships to explain the drop in recidivism rates was outside the scope of this analysis.
The Pew study is available here. The methodology used by Pew involved review of an administrative data set maintained by the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP). NCRP compiles offender-level data on admissions and releases from state and federal prisons and post-confinement community supervision. The data are used to monitor the nation’s correctional population and address specific policy questions related to recidivism, prisoner reentry, and trends in demographic characteristics of the incarcerated and community supervision populations. BJS has administered the NCRP since 1983.