Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Studies bring positive news on recidivism, corrections spending

A pair of recent public policy reports offer hopeful news. First, the Austin Statesman brings word of a Council of State Governments report (pdf)out today on trends toward lower recidivism, including in Texas. According to the study, "Texas saw a drop of 22 percent between [inmates released in] 2000 and 2007." (Keep in mind recidivism data takes three years to compile, so the data from those released in 2007 can't be calculated until after 2010.)

Factors contributing to Texas' recidivism decline, said the report, included that:
• In 2007, the Texas Legislature significantly increased funding to expand the capacity of existing treatment programs and alternatives to incarceration, including transitional housing for parolees, in-prison treatment for substance abuse, and outpatient substance abuse treatment for people under probation supervision.
• Policymakers supported the implementation of a system of graduated sanctions for parolees, allowing for the diversion of technical violators of parole to an Intermediate Sanction Facility rather than returning them to prison.
• Over a longer period, recidivism rates in Texas have improved from 31.2 percent for 2000 releases to 24.3 percent for 2007 releases—a decline of 22 percent.
Here are Texas recidivism data for cohorts released in the following years:
  • 2000: 31.2%
  • 2001: 28.2%
  • 2002: 28.5%
  • 2003: 28.2%
  • 2004: 28.0%
  • 2005: 27.2%
  • 2006: 26.0%
  • 2007: 24.3%
One factor contributing to the final year's decline is that Texas does not count parolees sent to Intermediate Sanctions Facilities in its recidivism data, and those facilities were expanded in 2007. But the overall decline of 22% since the turn of the century is still quite remarkable and goes beyond what the ISF populations would account for.

Meanwhile, via Doug Berman I discovered a report from the Vera Institute of Justice titled, "Realigning Justice Resources:  A Review of Population and Spending Shifts in Prison and Community Corrections" (pdf). See an accompanying fact sheet (pdf) providing an overview of their findings. Since their analyses ends in 2010, this report's Texas data don't account for recent prison population declines, and our figures would look more positive compared to other states if recent data had been included. Still, compared to astronomical growth in Texas corrections spending over the last three decades, the news here is generally positive. And even more pronounced reductions in prison populations and spending in other states demonstrate that, with a few far-sighted policy changes, Texas has room for even more dramatic savings in the corrections arena, if the Legislature can muster the gumption to pursue them.

1 comment:

David E said...

With Madden gone who will lead out in "gumption"?