A new study from the Pew Center on the States finds that Alaska has the sixth highest recidivism rate in the nation. What is recidivism and how is it measured? Glad you asked:
"Recidivism is the act of reengaging in criminal offending despite having been punished. The prison recidivism rate—the subject of this report—is the proportion of persons released from prison who are rearrested, reconvicted or returned to custody within a specific time period. Typically, recidivism studies follow released offenders for three years following their release from prison or placement on probation. Offenders are returned to prison for one of two reasons:
- For committing a new crime that results in a new conviction or;
- For a technical violation of supervision, such as not reporting to their parole or probation officer or failing a drug test."
The report compares recidivism in the states between two periods, 1999-2002 and 2004-2007. Unfortunately Alaska is one of states where there is no data for the first period. For the latter period there were 11,619 releases of felons that resulted in a recidivism rate of 50.4%, versus a national average of 43.3% in the same period. The worst rate was 61.2% in Minnesota (WTF?) and the lowest was 22.8% in Oregon.
What to do about it? The Institute of Social and Economic Research has some suggestions: "We found that the state could both reduce the number of Alaskans in prison or jail and save considerable money over the next 20 years, by adding about $4 million a year to the $17 million it currently spends to keep people from returning to prison— or prevent them from ever going there at all."