DoJ: 83% of prisoners arrested again within 9 years
A study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that fully 83% of prisoners let out on early release programs were re-arrested within nine years.
Overall, 68 percent of released state prisoners were arrested within three years, 79 percent within six years and 83 percent within nine years. The 401,288 released state prisoners were arrested an estimated 2 million times during the nine years after their release, an average of five arrests per released prisoner.
On an annual basis, 44 percent of prisoners were arrested during the first year after release, 34 percent were arrested during the third year and 24 percent were arrested during the ninth year. Five percent of prisoners were arrested during the first year after release and were not arrested again during the 9-year follow-up period.
For most of the 20th century and into the 21st, prison "reform" has been a political issue of varying importance. The do-gooders want shorter sentences and more support for released inmates. Realists want many criminals locked up for long stretches and punished.
The conclusions we can reach from numbers like this are that nothing is working and a whole different approach to what to do about criminals in and out of prison must be created.
Part of why the "tough-on-crime regime" – from the Reagan era through the last decade – had so much success in lowering crime rates is because most of the criminals were involved in drugs and property crimes. Whether you are a hawk or a dove on drugs is immaterial to the fact that most of those trafficking drugs are involved in many other crimes and account for most of the crimes committed. Thus, getting them off the streets worked wonders. It didn't stop the spread of drugs (although I would argue that is because we never went after the source via our foreign policy and immigration policy), but it absolutely did stop a lot of the violent crime and property crimes. When you let out drug offenders early from prison in this era, they will not only go back to selling even deadlier drugs, killing thousands, they will also commit other crimes.
New York City's "broken windows" policy was largely credited with making the city safer. When you arrest a career criminal and he goes to prison – even for a short time for a lesser offense – he can't commit any crimes while incarcerated.
The question for liberals isn't whether the program worked. It's how "fair" it was to minorities. Indeed, the notion that there are "too many blacks in jail" is animating the current push for prison reform.
The House-passed "First Step Act," which is the first step to the broader agenda of its proponents to dismantle the Reagan crime agenda, does not make any exceptions for heroin and fentanyl traffickers for early release programs. And yes, they absolutely are early release programs. Ironically, proponents of the bill, who also support getting rid of mandatory sentencing on the front end of the system, insist that I am mischaracterizing the bill as a sentencing bill. No, it's not a sentencing bill, but it is a jailbreak bill on the back end of the justice system, offering multiple avenues for early release.
I don't think anyone, right or left, has satisfactory solutions to the recidivist problem. I don't think there's any doubt that prisons today are factories for making career criminals. But how best to intervene so that kids, who might be getting into minor trouble – "broken glass" crimes – don't graduate to more violent crime after spending time in prison?
Does a kid caught with the wrong amount of coke or heroin deserve to be locked up for years? And what happens to him while in prison? I am not a big "rehabilitation" proponent except for younger prisoners who have a better chance of turning things around with a little education – and local programs that target these kids before they get to prison deserve local support.
But these early release programs that let career criminals out of jail due to some misguided sense of "fairness" will never work and should be scrapped.