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--- How the Criminal Justice System calculates "Recidivism Statistics" ---
The Criminal Justice System (CJS) is generally concerned with people, people in jails and prisons. What crimes they have committed is not that important because the CJS system needs to find a place to incarcerate these folks. Recidivism is a topic that the CJS is concerned about because they need to plan space to hold those who come back to prisons and jails.
Accordingly, the CJS system compiles "recidivism" statistics based on the number rearrested, the number reconvicted, the number resentenced to prison, and the number returned to prison with or without a new sentence.
Definition of recidivism: It really means, following conviction of one crime and incarceration, if the offender is incarcerated again, then the offender is a recidivist, they are included in the statistics. There are flaws in this theory, especially as it relates to what is generally accepted as "sex offender recidivism." i.e., committing the same crime.
Note: There is one circumstance that bears mentioning, the offender who is simultaneously convicted of multiple offenses. The legal community does not considered this offender a recidivist, until a period of incarceration has passed allowing the offender to reform. This situation plays havoc with discussions and statistics.
The measures of recidivism:
RE-ARREST numbers: When the prosecutor issues a warrant to have someone arrested the police go arrest the person. Within those arrested are some who have been arrested before, these are the ones who go into "recidivism numbers." Those re-arrested.
RE-CONVICTED numbers: Just because someone is arrested for a crime that is no proof that they committed the crime. After being processed by the CJS system and being convicted for this second crime, these are the ones who go into "recidivism numbers." Those re-convicted.
RE-SENTENCED TO PRISON numbers: Once courts actually convict a person of a crime then they must sentence them, and not everyone goes to prison, some goto jail and some are placed on probation.
RE-TURNED TO PRISON with and without A NEW SENTENCE numbers: This is perhaps the most confusing number because it represents EVERYONE going back to prison. It includes the "re-sentenced to prison" folks (new crimes [recidivists]), and another group of folks that are going back to prison because they have "technical violations" of their parole conditions:
When Recidivism rates are calculated based upon the number of offenders who are returned to jail/prison (incarceration)! The recidivism rate calculated does not mention, percentage due to new crimes, or percentage due to technical violations. Further, before anyone says, "yes but the percentages are minute," lets look at a 1-14-2003 report from South Carolina, the portion related to our discussion is:|
"MEASURING THE PROBLEM: The S.C. Corrections Department does not analyze the reason former inmates return to prison. But one indicator, considered incomplete, is that 12 percent of criminals on probation or parole were charged with another crime and sent back to prison last year. Probation and parole agency figures show that 5,610 offenders violated the conditions of their releases in 2002, spokesman Pete O'Boyle said. The vast majority, 88 percent, were for technical violations, such as failing to pay restitution or not meeting with a probation officer, O'Boyle said. Nationally, about half the inmates went back to prison because they committed another crime, said Pat Langan, a researcher on the study. The rest violated probation or parole rules."
Of the 5,610 offenders returned to prison in 2002, 12% were for NEW CRIMES(673), and 88% were for TECHNICAL VIOLATIONS(4937). Notice the statistical comment about "nationally," 50% NEW CRIMES and 50% TECHNICAL VIOLATIONS. The point being, recidivism rates are overstated, in fact double or more, of reality.
Technical Violations: Most folks don't understand these.. When an offender is out on probation, parole, supervised release, or a like program, they are given a set of rules that they must follow to complete the program. Rules vary but some examples are, "the offender must report to their parole/probation officer, the offender must go to therapy, the offender cannot drive into county ___, the offender cannot get any driving tickets, the offender must not frequent bars, the offender must pay restitution, and many other rules like these." Some of these are more serious than others, depending on the offender's case, but, if the rules are not followed it does not amount to a new crime, yet if an offender violates enough of the rules, the parole/probation officer may send the offender back to jail or prison (incarceration). Here are 3 sites which describe "technical violations,:
and a law firm. They are pretty much the same everywhere, but remember, technical violations generally are not crimes.
So, as you can see the most complicated measure of recidivism is, those who return to prison with and without a new sentence.
New Crimes: encompasses various types of crimes, and since some of those returned to prison are sex offenders, we need to know if they were returned for -a sex offense- or -another type of crime-. If "high recidivism" (generally attributed to sex offenders) includes non-sex offenses, then the theory that "sex offenders will always commit another sex offense (i.e. accepted meaning)" is false! Definitely the constitutional protections of Equal Treatment for similarly situated persons is now at issue!
When you hear a "recidivism rate" you need to ask, what is included in that figure? Only then can you know if it is "crime" or "technical violations."
--- Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 study ---
The most comprehensive study of recidivism ever compiled, was by the Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Prisoners (272,111) from 15 states were tracked for 3 years following their release in 1994; and 3,138 of them were rapists. Here we are concerned with pages 7-9, in this report sex offenders (rapists). The conclusion we can draw from these published DOJ statistics is, the sex offender recidivism rate is 2.5%, far lower than has been reported! Further that, the claims of "sex offender high recidivism rates" made by the media, speakers and politicians are simply not true, they are false!
Page 7 (lower right corner): "Convicted rapists made up 1.2% of the 272,111, and 46% of these released rapists were rearrested within 3 years for some type of felony or serious misdemeanor (not necessarily another violent sex offense)." NOTE: 1.2% of 272,111 is 3,138 offenders.
Page 8 (lower right corner): "Within 3 years, 2.5% of th 3,138 released rapists were rearrested for another rape, ...." NOTE: 2.5% of 3,138 is 78.45.
Page 9 (lower right quadrant): "Specialists:
"Specialists" are prisoners who, after being released, commit the same crime they were just in prison for, while "non-specialists" are those whose new offense differs from what they were in prison for. ....."
"Of the released rapists, more were rearrested for something other than rape (for example, 8.7% for nonsexual assault and 6.2% for theft) than were rearrested for another rape(2.5%). ..."
While the 1994 DOJ Report (& the 1983 DOJ Report) was presented in the
US Supreme court in the Alaska and Connecticut cases,
these FACTS REGARDING STATISTICAL FLAWS WERE NOT
presented to the Court, nor has the Court ever dug into
statistical percentage generation!
___ Cross Validation of Department of Justice Findings ___
In an effort to confirm what we learned about Technical Violations and New Crimes as they relate to sex offenders, we turned to records produced annually by the Michigan Parole Board of their parolees.
Using their annually produced, Parole Board charts -D2 and D2a-, we extrapolated and reformatted the information (for years 1990 through 1998) and compiled it into (Combined Recidivism Statistics for the Years 1990-1998.) Unfortunately there was no information with regards to those on probation, but in theory, those in prison were there for the more serious crime types, so statistics should be valid.
Lets review the statistics shown in the chart to see if they correlate with CJS DOJ statistics. Over 10 years Michigan paroled 3,735 sex offenders (mixed variety - all kinds of sex offenses and sex offenders), of that 767 or 20.5% failed and were returned to prison.
Now recidivism: 508 (13.6%) were returned for technical violations and 259 (6.9%) were returned for new crimes. New crimes were, 99(2.65%) for same crime (a sex offense) and 160(4.28%) for other crimes.
___ In Conclusion ___
Michigan, for 10 years running, correlates with the findings of the Department of Justice in 1994.
The true recidivism rate for mixed sex offenders correlates, 2.65% and 2.5%. The claims of high recidivism rates are false!
Sex offenders have been singled out based upon a false perception!
Given this is well known, why does Congress not act?