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Report says post-prison arrests down, repeat offenses up

May 16, 2013|By Paige St. John
  • An inmate at the Madera County Jail is taken to one of the inmate housing units.
An inmate at the Madera County Jail is taken to one of the inmate housing units. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Felons released from prison are committing new crimes at roughly the same rate they did before Gov. Jerry Brown switched their supervision to county probation, but a new report says repeat offenses are up.

The study, released by the state corrections department Thursday, holds that there is "very little difference between the one-year arrest and conviction rates of offenders released pre- and post-Realignment." That was the message highlighted in a press statement from the corrections department.

The press office chose not to highlight a study finding that repeat offenses increased during the short-term study, and that offenders are much more likely than in the past to be arrested for a felony. The felony rate rose from 34.6% to 42.5% after realignment.

The study, of 37,000 offenders released from state prisons between October 2011 and March 2012, showed that almost 59% of those released from prison were arrested within a year for a new crime. That compares with 62% of the 52,000 offenders released from prison in the same six-month period a year before.

Of those arrested within a year of release from prison before realignment, about 50% were arrested more than once. For those prisoners released after realignment, the repeat arrest rate jumped to 63%, including a tripling of the offenders arrested six or more times within the study year.

The report demonstrates realignment's effect in reducing prison populations. The number of inmates returned to prison dropped from 21,800 before realignment to 2,780 after. 

Authors of the report warn that it is based on only six months of prison releases and one year of time in the community. They said it represents "an early stage" of the new law. "Therefore, caution should be used when interpreting the findings."

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