Skip to comments.Recidivism rate worse than statistics indicate (TN)
Posted on 03/08/2010 4:08:17 PM PST by fieldmarshaldj
Recidivism rate worse than statistics indicate,
Memphis-area study finds 20 years of research discovers 81 percent of former inmates end up back behind bars
By Michael Lollar March 7, 2010
Jeff Smith had been free of drugs for four years. Two of those years were during a stay at the Shelby County Correction Center and two were while working at the Salvation Army after his release from jail.
It was at the Salvation Army that Smith, 54, says he felt a sense of purpose for the first time in years. He was doing what he says he loves best working as a carpenter and furniture refinisher. And he counseled other former inmates to try to keep them from repeating their mistakes.
Smith wishes he had followed his own advice. I was tempted by the devil, and I failed, he says. Carpentry, counseling and church services at the Salvation Army werent enough to break the revolving-door cycle that means, like Smith, up to 94 percent of former inmates will be rearrested and up to 81 percent will wind up behind bars again.
The numbers are part of a 20-year study that shows recidivism is far worse than statistics usually indicate. It is the only study done over such a long period of time, tracking inmates who were first jailed at the correction center between 1987 and 1991, says psychologist Dr. Greg Little.
Little and psychologist Dr. Kenneth Robinson, founders of Correctional Counseling Inc., were trying out a new treatment program in 1987 and began tracking inmates to compare their results with those of inmates who went through only standard counseling. They followed each inmate, recording every re-arrest and every re-incarceration.
Tennessee Department of Correction studies show recidivism rates of about 51 percent over a three-year period, and national studies show recidivism averages of roughly 65 percent over three years. But Little and Robinson say the numbers keep going up over time, and the numbers are higher because most studies dont count re-incarcerations that took place in other states or in courts other than the original case. For instance, an inmate released on state probation or parole is seldom counted as a recidivist if later jailed for a federal crime.
Jeff Smith had undergone the treatment designed by Little and Robinson. It is called Moral Reconation Therapy. The therapy requires inmates to study their own decision-making. In workbooks and group therapy, inmates are confronted with choices that grow more and more complex. Is it right to steal if you cant afford a prescription for a sick wife who might die without the medication? As they debate the choices, inmates have to think about how they make decisions. MRT tries to improve your decision-making, meaning to do the right thing in the right way, says Robinson.
Smith, who had begun using heroin when he was 17, had struggled with drug addiction most of his life. His MRT training made him realize his mistakes were conscious decisions, he said last summer while working at the Salvation Army.
Smith now looks down at a conference table at the Correction Center. He says he tried to avoid old friends after his release on probation two years ago. He had served 61/2 years of a 13-year sentence for forgery, theft of property, aggravated assault and a parole violation. But when an old friend told him he was dying of liver cancer, Smith says he agreed to roll with him one more time.
Smith says he also is bipolar, needing medication to stay on an even keel. He quit using the medication and resorted with his friend to heroin and cocaine. It led to another theft charge to support the drug habit and now: I have plenty of time to work on my Bible studies.
Little and Robinson say the cost of housing an inmate like Smith is more than $24,000 a year, so cutting total costs by 25 percent would mean a huge savings.
Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, a proponent of swift and sure justice, says the high cost of imprisonment is making every law enforcement officer look for alternatives to building new jails. One of the most far-reaching plans by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) would start by looking at harsh drug laws enacted in the 1980s, including mandatory minimum sentences and nonviolent drug offenses filling prisons beyond capacity.
Little says there are 14.3 million arrests leading to jail each year in the United States. U.S. jails hold 850,000 people, so weve got to be shoving them out the door very fast. Thats why people talk about a revolving door. The revolving door
A 20-year study of recidivism by Correctional Counseling Inc., a Memphis-based behavioral therapy program, is the longest study of recidivism in the country, say psychologists Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson.
It followed 1,381 inmates who first served time at the Shelby County Correction Center between 1987 and 1991. They were taking part in a new treatment program designed by the psychologists that since has gone from a local pilot program to one used in 47 states and eight countries.
There were 1,052 inmates who used the new program (called MRT for moral reconation therapy) and 329 inmates in a comparison group who received only standard therapy. Results of the 20-year study include:
About 94 percent of inmates receiving only standard counseling had been rearrested and 82 percent of them wound up back behind bars.
Of those receiving MRT therapy, 81 percent had been rearrested and 61 percent again wound up behind bars. It was reduction of about 25 percent from the group that did not receive MRT therapy.
Yeah, that didn't skew the study any...
Does Tennessee have a three strike law?
I don’t think so. But to use Memphis to represent all of Tennessee is ridiculous. Its the difference in New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana.
My fault, I should’ve inserted “Memphis” ahead of TN in the title. I was posting this article on behalf of GailA. Crime is not my area of expertise, so I can’t address some of the questions with any definitive authority.
I was just going to suggest that three strikes might be a good idea there if it hasn’t been tried yet. It puts away career criminals.
Thanks so much. We served 575 people Lenten lunch today, I’m one tired puppy.
According to my online research, we’ve had a 3-strikes law in place since 1996. How it is definitively applied here, I can’t rightly answer.
Glad to hear it all went well. ;-)
It also assures that a person who gets 3 DUI's in 10 years will do at least 1 year in the county jail and 3-5 years at the state prison.
I think the "3 strikes" rules need some adjusting. And "career criminal" needs to be re-defined. "Career stupid" is more like it now.
I think the study is a little off. Sheriff Lutteral has said the penal farm which is an 11 month 29 day facility, with a 33% serve rate (90 days) has a repeat offense rate of 85%. State wide it’s 58% with them serving on average 1/3rd of their sentences, nationwide it’s 68%. Federal system is different they serve 85% of their sentences. Don’t know the repeat offense rate for the Federal system.
And you are right Memphis is like NO, crime capital of the state. Memphis produces the greater majority of the state inmates than the rest of the state, even Nashville which is actually has a larger population, but half the crime rate.
Going to be as bad next Monday, we have a Rabi coming in, and he like the speaker today is the big draw. Most of the servers are old geezers like me.
The biggest reason I support the death penalty is because it *DOESN’T HAVE* a recidivism rate.
And if it did, the world would have a serious zombie problem.
Juvy records need to be considered if they are for violent offenses. Some of it is up to the prosecutors, not mandatory. TN does have Constitutional Rights for crime victims, not just statutory like many states. We victims fought hard for them. I dislike these studies as they always leave the number of victims out of the equation.
No link, just what I culled from the paper study.
TENNESSEE RECIDIVISIM/DURATIONAL REPORT January 1, 1995 (for the period of July 1, 1989 to June 30, 1991)
In a study conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigaton and the Tennessee Sentencing Commission. The survey studied 3,793 offenders released from Tennessee Jails and prisons between July 1989 and June 30 , 1991, for rearrest or recommitment to prison. This is 25% of all prisoners released during that time period, and was selected to be represenative of all those released.
********Of the offenders released during the sample period, 53.5% were rearrested or recommited within 2 years for a new crime or parole violation. 39.2% of the offenders were recommited, 24.7% were recommitted as a result of a new conviction and 14.5% were recommited as a result of a techniccal violation of the conditions of their release. An additional 14.3% were rearrested but not recommited within 2 years.
**Offenders released to parole were more likely to be recommitted or rearrested than any other group. 55.1% of the offenders released to parole were either recommitted or rearrested within 2 years of the date of their release. 41.2% were recommited and an additional 13.9% were rearrested but not recommited.
**The highest rates for recomitments and rearrest were for offenders age 21 or under 68.2% of all offenders who were 21 or younger when released from incarceration werer either recommited or rearrested within 2 years of the date of their release from incarceration; 57.9% of offenders of those 22 and 30; 48.9% of offenders between ages 31 and 40; 18.3% of those between 51 and 60.
***During the period of release July 1, 1989 to June 30, 1991 the 3,793 released prisoners were rearrested and recommited for the followning offenses:1,469 Total new offenses:
22 Homicides; 14 sex offenses; 5 kidnapings, 1 arson. 90 assaults, 132 robberies; 373 drug offenses; 220 burglaries, 67 frauds, forgeries, embezzlements; 89 other felonies, 225 misdameanors, 559 technical violations of parole.
**Offenders released during the sample period served on average 29.3% of their sentences. Offenders convicted of First Degree Murder served 25.8%. Class A felons served 29.7%, Class B felons 31.6%, Class D 31.8% and Class E felons 34.3%, of their sentences.
**67.5% were released to parole supervison. These offenders served 23 months on a average sentence of 83 months.
**Offenders released from incarceration during the sample period, 10.6% were released at the expriation of their sentences. Offenders convicted of less serious felonies were more likely to serve to the expiration of their sentences than offenders convicted of more serious offense.
Of those offenders who expired thier sentences, 36.5% were convicted of a Class E felony. Only 7% of offenders convicted of a Class A felony served to the expriation of tehir sentences, compared to 16% of the Class E offenders.
**Of the offenders released to parole supervision, 29% were released under “safety valve.” Offenders under “safety valve” served 20.8% of their sentences and offenders released under regular parole served 31.2%.
**35% of offenders released had previously been incarcerated for another offense. This offense may have been either a misdemeanor or felony. Those previously incarcerated served a greater percentage of their sentences than those offenders serving their first period of incarceration.
**Offenders convicted of crimes agains a person served longer than offenders convicted of a non-violent or drug offense. Offenders convicted of drug offenses served the least percentage of their sentences 22.1%. Drug offenders had the same average sentence as an offender convicted of a non violent offenses but served 5 months less. Offenders convicted of crimes against a person served 20 months longer than offenders convicted of non-violent crimes.
**Offenders released during the sample period were sentenced from counties in 4 Grand Divisions. Offenders from East Tennessee served 7 months longer than offenders from West Tennessee and 2 months longer than offenders from Middle Tennessee.
Where Sentenced: 49.4% West Tennessee..i.e. mainly Memphis; 26.6% Middle Tennessee; 24.0% East Tennessee;
Race: 58.6% Black; 47.8% White; Sex: 43.6% Female; 54.4% Male
**Females released served an average sentence of 57 months, compared to 70 months for males. Females also served a lesser percentage of their sentence prion to release. Males served 29.6% and females 25.2% of their sentences.
**The average sentence for black offenders 65 months(28.9%) was 10 months less than for white offenders 75 months (29.7%). Black and white offenders served almost identical percentages of their sentences.
Have you seen Congress lately ?
Yes, but they haven’t yet been killed first...