The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has recently released a report on Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 (NCJ 244205). The report, which included Texas (where the Prison Entrepreneurship Program currently operates), examines the 5-year post-release offending patterns of persons released from state prisons in 2005 by offender characteristics, prior criminal history, and commitment offense.

Among state prisoners released in 30 states in 2005—

  • About two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years.
  • More than a third (36.8%) of all prisoners who were arrested within 5 years of release were arrested within the first 6 months after release, with more than half (56.7%) arrested by the end of the first year.
  • A sixth (16.1%) of released prisoners were responsible for almost half (48.4%) of the nearly 1.2 million arrests that occurred in the 5-year follow-up period.

At PEP, we see recidivism as one of the most pernicious challenges facing the future of our country. Every inmate who returns to prison costs taxpayers an average of $31,000 per year … not including the tremendous damage caused by their crimes, the loss of their income to their families and more.

Thankfully, your support of our work has begun to shed new light on how our country can address this challenge. That is why U.S. Senator John Cornyn recently visited PEP to learn more about our work, and why so many different states have contacted us to learn about our unparalleled results.

What do you think about this study?

As our country learns more about the impact of recidivism, are there other questions that we should be asking?

For example, what percentage of these recidivists were unemployed at the time of their re-arrest? If employed, how did their wages compare to their income before incarceration? What percentage of their income was being spent on rent and basic living costs? Or, perhaps, what percentage were not able to afford a place to live at all?

None of the answers to these questions would excuse a return to crime. However, if we do not understand the background of those who do recidivate, we will never be able to reduce their likelihood of returning to crime.

In our ten years of experience at PEP, we have seen that the inability to secure a living wage is one of the leading sources of stress among people returning from prison. Followed by an inability to find safe, affordable housing, this stress can often lead to the poor decision-making that lands them back in jail or prison. This is particularly the case with drug offenders, many of whom did not receive appropriate treatment for their substance abuse while incarcerated.

By first equipping our participants with the ability to earn a decent living, and then surrounding them with a supportive environment in which to continue rebuilding their lives after release from prison, PEP has delivered some of the nation’s best results in terms of reducing crime among former prisoners.

Your support of our mission drives these results. Thank you!

Restored Hope. New Identity.

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