Report says CDCR recidivism rates drop

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation published its latest recidivism report, finding that fewer individuals released from prison reoffended. Data showed that the recidivism rate for people in fiscal year 2018-19 declined by 2.7 percent over the previous year, to 41.9 percent.

CDCR’s Office of Research determined that the COVID-19 pandemic may be a substantial factor for reduction and the effects of various criminal justice reform efforts, variations in demographics and characteristics of the group, and changes in overall crime rates also contributed.

The report marks the second year of data showing the effects of the passage of Proposition 57, and the findings point to lower recidivism rates for those who earned credits from participation and completion of rehabilitative programming. Specifically, those who had any type of programming credit had substantially lower conviction rates than people with no enhanced credit earnings (39.2 percent versus 45.6 percent). People with Educational Merit Credit had a 26.1 percent recidivism rate and those with Rehabilitative Achievement Credit reoffended at a 21.1 percent rate.

Recidivism rates are developed utilizing a three-year follow-up period, and analyze a cohort’s arrests, convictions and returns to prison. This nationally recognized practice has been followed by CDCR since reporting began. The three-year conviction rate serves as CDCR’s primary measure of recidivism, and arrests and returns to prison are supplemental measures.

The latest report contains the most recent recidivism information available, examining 36,086 people released from CDCR custody in FY 2018-19. As with previous reports, the recidivism report also examines offender demographics and characteristics including gender, ethnicity, offense, county of release, type of sentence, sex registration status, serious and violent offenders, prior incarcerations, mental health status and risk for reconviction.

The COVID-19 pandemic was active for the final two years of the three-year follow-up period, causing changes to statewide crime rates (see: 2022 Crime in California Report), court closures, the transfer of court proceedings to electronic/remote proceedings, and the temporary suspension of intakes and transfers to CDCR, which likely influenced all three measures of recidivism (arrests, convictions, and returns to prison).

Archived recidivism reports can be found here: