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New numbers from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday (January 15) suggest that fewer prisoners are returning to incarceration after being released.

The state's 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report looks at the recidivism rate — the proportion of released felons who commit new crimes — over a period of three years. This year's report, the fourth produced to date, follows ex-cons released in 2008 and 2009.

While the majority of former inmates (61 percent) still find themselves in legal trouble again within three years of being released, that number is down from 63.7 percent last year and 67.5 percent when the study began four years ago.

San Diego County didn't fare as well as the state overall, reporting that two-thirds of offenders released here still wind up back in prison. Of 7148 offenders released in San Diego during the course of the study, 3711 were incarcerated again within a year, while 4763 eventually found their way back behind bars.

"The continuing improvement in the state’s recidivism rate is encouraging news for all Californians,” said department secretary Jeff Beard in a release accompanying the report. "As we move forward and both [the department] and counties utilize state funds to invest more in evidence-based rehabilitation efforts, I’m confident we will see recidivism rates continue to decline."

The findings also indicate that men (62.4 percent) are more likely than women (48.9 percent) to end up back in the system, and that nearly half of those who will be re-arrested run into problems within six months of being released. Sex offenders are most likely to re-offend, with nearly three in four adding to their original charges.

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