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Report: Drug treatment has vast effect on reoffending

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New figures from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation show recidivism rates are down for the second year in a row. 

In a constant attempt to determine what leads to reoffending, CDCR tracks the rate at which released inmates commit new crimes or violate their parole conditions. Its findings are issued in the department's annual Outcome Evaluation Report.

The 2012 report tracked inmates released in 2007-2008 for three years after their release and found that 63.7 percent returned to prison within three years. That's a slight improvement from the 67.5 percent recidivism rate measured two years ago. 

In a statement, CDCR officials attributed the decline to a risk assessment tool implemented in 2007 that classifies offenders based on their need for rehabilitation and likeliness to reoffend. That change targeted some offenders for particular in-prison programs and also cut down on the number of parolees returning to prison for less serious parole violations.

CDCR's analysis showed that those who participated in drug treatment programs returned to prison at about half the rate of those who didn't.

Some other nuggets from the CDCR's 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report:

  • The recidivism rate for those returning to Los Angeles County - 54 percent - was significantly lower than the state average.
  • Those who commit more serious crimes are not the offenders most likely to return to prison. As with previous years, the highest reoffense rate - 72.8 percent - came from those incarcerated for vehicle theft. By contrast, 52 percent those incarcerated for rape returned to prison within three years.
  • Recidivism declines with age, with 18-19 year olds returning to prison at the highest rates. 
  • Only 1.9 percent of registered sex offenders sent back to prison were returned because they committed a new sex crime. The vast majority of registered sex offenders returned to prison - 86.9 percent - were sent back because they committed a parole violation.

Full report here

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