Transition Program Recidivism Rate is 71% Lower Than Rate of Statewide Comparison Group!

A follow-up study of participants in New York State's Incarcerated Education Transition Program, conducted by The Westchester Institute for Human Services Research, Inc. and the Hudson River Center for Program Development, has just been completed, and results are impressive. The status of participants in 26 Transition Program sites throughout the State was determined 5-12 months after their release from county and local correctional facilities. Results revealed that 17% had been rearrested during the follow-up period. When technical probation violations1 were excluded, the percent of rearrests dropped to only 13%. In contrast, a Statewide comparison group2 had a 45% rearrest rate during the same time period (see Figure 1). This represents 71% greater recidivism for the comparison group.

Program Results and Recidivism

Offenders in Transition Programs participate in life skills, career exploration, job development/job placement, and counseling, in addition to a variety of other activities. Examination of the relationship between participation in these major components and recidivism demonstrated a positive link. Participants who were not rearrested during the study period spent almost double the average number of hours in the program (mean=68 hours), compared with those who recidivated (mean=35 hours) during the study period. Stated differently, those who were not rearrested spent an average of 49% more time in the program than those who were rearrested.

A possible explanation for these favorable results could be the length of time spent in prison rather than program hours, given that longer periods of incarceration have been found to be associated with lower recidivism. To explore this possibility, the researchers held time incarcerated constant while varying hours of program participation (above and below average hours in program). As depicted in Figure 2, the percent of rearrests was much lower for those who spent more time in the program, regardless of the amount of time spent in jail.

Researchers also examined the relationship among the length of time incarcerated, the number of hours of exposure to the program, and the recidivism rate. Participants were grouped in three categories based on length of incarceration (1-4 months, 4.5-7 months, and 7.5-15 months). Hours of exposure were then calculated for those rearrested and those not rearrested during the follow-up period. As illustrated in Figure 3, length of program exposure appears to be a strong factor in reducing recidivism.

In conclusion, program participants who did not recidivate spent much more time in the program, on average, than those who did recidivate, regardless of length of time incarcerated. Collectively, these findings strongly suggest that the Transition Program reduced recidivism among participants.

Other Post-Release Outcomes

In addition to these favorable results, Transition Program participants made positive changes in their lives that would be expected to deter future criminal behavior. These changes included the following:

Cost Savings of Over $49.1 Million

The Transition Program yielded 71% fewer repeat offenders than the statewide comparison group described earlier. If the program had been in operation with this comparison group, (N=40,000), it is projected that 12,800 persons would not have recidivated.3 With an estimated average cost of $127.87/day/inmate,4 assuming an average 30-day stay, the State would have realized a cost savings of over $49.1 million.

Chart 1

Projected Number of Rearrests and Cost Savings if Transition Program Had Been Implemented With Statewide Comparison Group

Transition Program rearrest rate: 13%
Size of statewide comparison group: 40,000
Number of projected rearrests if Transition Program implemented with comparison group: 5,200
Statewide comparison group rearrest rate: 45%
Number of actual rearrests in comparison group 18,000
Projected number of rearrests that would have been prevented (18,000-5,200) 12,800

Cost Savings

$127.87/inmate/day x 30 days =
$3,836.10/inmate/30-day stay
x 12,800 inmates =
$49,102,080 saved

Thanks are due to the

Division of Criminal Justice Services,
Office of Justice System Analyses,
for elucidating issues involved in forming a comparison group and for providing the data requested.

For more information contact

Konrad Raup
Alternative Education and Family Literacy Team
New York State Education Department
Education Building, Room 307
Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234