A just-released “first of its kind” study conducted by the Pew Center on the States found that New Jersey was one of just six states – and the lone state in the Northeast – that saw a significant decrease in the number of offenders returned to state prison during the period examined.
The study, which the Pew Center conducted with assistance from the Association of the State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), asked states to report three-year return-to-prison rates for all inmates released from their prison systems in1999 and 2004. In New Jersey, the percentage of offenders returning to state prison had decreased by 11.4 percent. Only five other states – Oregon, Kansas, Utah, Louisiana and Michigan – reported decreases of at least 10 percent. The study revealed a nearly even split between states that had increasing and decreasing rates of recidivism when comparing the 1999 and 2004 releases.
These results were compiled during a time period in which New Jersey had experienced a reduced prison population, yet the release population numbers essentially had remained the same.
New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) officials attribute the reduction to a variety of factors, among them diversion programs such as drug and mental health courts, reentry initiatives and day reporting centers.
State departments of corrections were asked to report “return to prison” for two reasons: the commitment of a new crime or a technical violation of supervision. The agencies were asked to provide three-year follow-up rates for a 1999 and a 2004 cohort for comparison purposes. A total of 41 states participated in the study. The data will provide insight to policymakers as they confront tightening state budgets and will allow for an assessment of performance.
For more information, call the NJDOC Public Information Office at 609-292-9340.