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June 21, 2016

Bureau of Justice Statistics releases new detailed report on recidivism of federal offenders

This official press release reports on some of the interesting highlights of this interesting new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics about recidivism rates and patterns for federal offenders.  The report is formally titled "Recidivism of Offenders Placed on Federal Community Supervision in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010." Here is the text of the BJS press release on the report:

Of the nearly 43,000 federal offenders who were placed on federal community supervision in fiscal year 2005, an estimated 43 percent were arrested at least once within five years of their placement, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.  An estimated 18 percent of these offenders were arrested at least once within one year of placement on community supervision and 35 percent were arrested at least once within three years of placement.

An estimated 80 percent of offenders who were placed on federal community supervision in 2005 were male.  More than a third (41 percent) were white and nearly a third (31 percent) were black. An estimated 28 percent were age 29 or younger and about 42 percent were age 40 or older.

The first arrest offense for federal offenders after placement on community supervision varied by federal and nonfederal offenses.  Among federal offenses, public order offenses, such as probation violations, accounted for 90 percent of first arrests of federal offenders after placement on community supervision, compared to 33 percent of first arrests for nonfederal offenses.

In comparing federal and state prisoners placed on community supervision, almost half (47 percent) of federal prisoners were arrested within five years, compared to more than three-quarters (77 percent) of state prisoners. Nearly a third (32 percent) of federal prisoners returned to prison within five years of their release to community supervision, compared to more than half (59 percent) of the state prisoners.

Other findings include —

  • Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of federal offenders on community supervision were directly sentenced to probation, while more than three-quarters (77 percent) began a term of community supervision following release from prison.

  • An estimated 70 percent of federal offenders on community supervision had at least one prior nonfederal arrest, and more than a third (35 percent) had four or more prior nonfederal arrests.

June 21, 2016 at 03:51 PM | Permalink


"probation violations, accounted for 90 percent of first arrests of federal offenders after placement on community supervision" and I would bet most if not all were minor infractions of probation (i.e. drug usage).

Posted by: ED | Jun 21, 2016 7:33:35 PM

I'm just beginning a period of supervised release after halfway house and federal custody. From my experience so far with the P.O., it seems he/she is often more interested in "process" and "checking boxes" than in holistic concern for the my well being or even legitimate concerns about community safety.

I wonder how many offenders recidivate, not IN SPITE OF supervised release but, instead, BECAUSE of supervised release--the accumulated obstacles that supervised release impose (many of which that have no connection to the offender's past crimes or even risk relevance) weigh the offender down more to the breaking point. Would he or she have fared better just left to his own devices?

So many condition and such long periods of release that offenders can't get traction, or work, and eventually give up.

The supervised release mechanism is protected, of course, because it can point to the "checked boxes" and say, 'we did our job' even if parts of the process are counter to the outcome of long-term integration.

And, unlike most professions (teachers, bricklayers, football players), the system of supervised release is judged by the process and not by what is accomplished...For a sports analogy, they can point to the long, 90-yard drive that doesn't end in a touchdown and still consider it a success and keep their jobs. Everyone else looks at it and sees failure.

But I'm hopeful for myself.

Posted by: KF | Jun 22, 2016 10:07:35 AM

KF you stated it better than I could, maintenance of job security at it's best, thanks for your comments.

Posted by: ED | Jun 22, 2016 6:35:47 PM

I'd be curious to know what state you are in, as there seems to be a wide variety of experiences depending on where you are released/supervised...

Posted by: AN | Jul 1, 2016 8:58:22 AM

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