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California’s recidivism rate (the proportion of state prisoners who return to incarceration) fell to 65 percent, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reported on December 21. While still amounting to nearly two-thirds of offenders returning to custody, the CDCR’s findings show a 2.4 percent drop from one year ago, resulting in 2766 fewer inmates returning to prison and saving the state’s taxpayers about $30 million. Numbers used for the study tracked prisoners released in the years 2006 and 2007, following them for three years after release.

“A major goal for CDCR and for other public safety officials is to prevent offenders from victimizing again after their release from incarceration,” CDCR secretary Matthew Cate said in a press release. “Even a slight drop in the overall percentage can equate to thousands of inmates who have not returned to prison and likely prevented the victimization of countless citizens. Reducing recidivism has been a primary goal for our agency, and this report shows that progress is being made.”

Parole violations constituted the largest reason for former inmates’ reincarceration, making up 45 percent of the population. Only 3 percent of those returning to custody did so for crimes involving personal altercations, while property crimes and drug charges each accounted for 7 percent of the population returning to prison.

Other findings indicate that female convicts are 11 percent less likely to have returned to prison after three years than men; that those with developmental disabilities are more likely than others to recidivate; that the recidivism rate is lower for inmates that receive substance-abuse treatment than for those that do not; and that the majority of sex offenders returning do not do so as the result of a new sexual crime — over 84 percent do so as the result of a parole violation. Further, 99 percent of convicted murderers paroled since 1995 have not returned to prison.

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