Infographic: Measuring and Assessing Recidivism

Evaluation and Sustainability
Reentry population:
Both Adults and Youth/Young Adults
RTI International and the Center for Justice Innovation

Infographic: Measuring and Assessing Recidivism

Recidivism generally refers to new criminal activity by someone who previously committed a criminal act. However, our conclusions concerning recidivism can depend on the data sources and measurements used. Consider the following:  

  • Data sources: Administrative records reflect incidents that come to official attention, whereas self-reported data (e.g., surveys) can also include incidents that have not been reported to authorities. 
  • Processing stage: The later one measures recidivism in terms of criminal legal system processing, the more biases are introduced into the measure. Consider including one or more "upstream” measures (e.g., rearrest) in addition to traditional “downstream” measures (e.g., return to prison). 
  • Types of recidivism: Capturing offense type (e.g., new property crime arrest) or severity (e.g., new felony conviction) can offer a more nuanced picture of recidivism. 

This infographic from the Evaluation and Sustainability Training and Technical Assistance (ES TTA) team at RTI International and the Center for Justice Innovation (formerly the Center for Court Innovation) provides important considerations when measuring recidivism in reentry program evaluations.

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