CSAC Bulletin Article

CDCR Issues Recidivism Reports for Persons Released from Prison in Fiscal Years 2016-17 and 2017-18 

April 20, 2023

Recently, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) published two reports examining the recidivism outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals released in Fiscal Years (FY) 2016-17 and 2017-18.  

For numerous years, CDCR has studied recidivism by examining arrests, convictions, and returns to prison in the three years following the date of a person’s release. The newly published reports examine the 31,792 people released from CDCR custody in FY 2016-17 and the 35,447 people released in FY 2017-18. 

As with previous reports, the recidivism reports also examine offender demographics and characteristics including gender, ethnicity, offense, county of release, type of sentence, sex registration status, serious and violent offenders, prior incarcerations, mental health status, and risk for reconviction. 

The first report, which examines recidivism data before Prop 57, of 31,792 total individuals released in FY 2016-17. Of those individuals, 52.4 percent successfully reentered their communities and did not receive any additional convictions. This is a 3 percent decrease from FY 2015-16. Of the 15,123 who received convictions, 51.4 percent were misdemeanor convictions, primarily for substance use crimes. 

For FY 2017-18, of the 35,447 individuals released, 55.4 percent (19,643 persons) successfully reentered their communities and did not receive any additional convictions, showing a lower recidivism rate than the year prior. Of the 15,804 formerly incarcerated individuals who did receive additional convictions, 53.1 percent were for misdemeanor convictions, primarily for substance use crimes (21.6 percent). 

Of note, the 2017-18 report begins tracking the impact of Proposition 57, which allows for enhanced credit-earning and parole opportunities. While the timing is limited, given Proposition 57 began a phased implementation throughout 2017, the preliminary data shows that half of the people released from prison that year (50.1 percent) earned some type of enhanced credit. The three-year conviction rate for offenders who earned credit (43.8 percent) was slightly lower than the rate for offenders with no enhanced credit earnings (45.4 percent). Additionally, those who earned Educational Merit Credit or Rehabilitative Achievement Credit had notably lower conviction rates (28.9 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively) than those without enhanced credit earning (45.4 percent). 

These preliminary findings show an early positive trend in California’s investments to improve public safety through an increased focus on rehabilitation, education, and restorative justice efforts. 

View the FY 2016-2017 report 

View the FY 2017-2018 report 

Archived recidivism reports can be found here

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