By Shira Schoenberg
National organizations focused on reforming criminal justice systems have highlighted Massachusetts as a top state in the country in significantly reducing the rate of people returning to prison.
“Massachusetts has been a leader in this, really taking advantage of a groundswell across the nation of general support for good reentry (programming),” said Nicole Jarrett, director of the National Reentry Resource Center.
The National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center calculated the three-year recidivism rates for prisoners in several states over around a decade, although the exact years differed by state.
Of 11 states included in their most recent brief, Massachusetts had the largest drop in its recidivism rate. Earlier briefs examined different states, and although the methods and numbers are not exactly comparable, the figures put Massachusetts toward the top of the pack nationally.
According to the report, Massachusetts lowered its recidivism rate by 28 percent, from 44 returns to prison within three years per 100 people released in 2005 to 31.6 returns to prison per 100 prisoners released in 2014. The figures represent the number of prisoners who return to state prison within three years of being released. They do not include county jails.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently conducted an extensive study of recidivism in Massachusetts. It made recommendations related to programming and supervision, many of which were adopted in legislation signed in April.