This article from the Austin American-Statesman reports on recidivism reduction from a recent report, but the report itself is not a result of rigorous evaluative research:  “It is not a comprehensive research report, nor is it an evaluation of any state’s recidivism efforts, assessing how changes in the recidivism rate in each state correlate to particular changes in policy or practice. Instead, this brief summarizes recent data provided to the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center by a select group of states that carefully monitor changes in their recidivism rates.” (p. 1)

Unfortunately, this is how the myth that current efforts of rehabilitation work, gets promulgated and public policy winds up expanding rehabilitative efforts that, after rigorous research (the only standard that should be used for policy implementation), prove not to be effective. The standard for rigorous evaluative research was described by James Q. Wilson, which we’ve posted to our rehabilitation reports page.

An excerpt from the Austin American-Statesman.

“Thanks partly to greatly expanded rehabilitation and treatment programs, Texas sent 11 percent fewer ex-convicts back to prison in recent years a significant drop in recidivism that is being replicated across the country, according to a new study.

“The study, to be released today by the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center project, shows that Texas’ recidivism rate — the number of felons who return to prison within three years after they are discharged or paroled — posted the double-digit drop for prisoners released in 2007.

“Between 2000 and 2007, the recidivism rate dropped 22 percent, according to the report.

“The numbers are significant, but the real impact is fewer crime victims,” said Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, an architect of reforms starting in 2007 that greatly expanded rehabilitation and treatment programs. “For every person who doesn’t go back to prison, there is one fewer crime, one fewer crime victim.”

“The report generally hails the dropping recidivism rates as proof that the emergence of additional rehabilitation and treatment programs is working, even as some criminologists note that the average age of offenders is rising — and older people tend to commit fewer crimes than younger ones.

“As policymakers are under tremendous pressure to cut spending wherever possible, Republican and Democratic elected officials alike have made the case that improved efforts to reduce reoffense rates among people released from prison would save money and increase public safety,” the report states. “Many states are now presenting data that indicates declines in statewide recidivism rates.”

“In Michigan, which has been working on new treatment and re-entry initiatives since 2003, the recidivism rate dropped by 18 percent between 2005 and 2007. In Kansas, which has been expanding treatment and rehab programs since 2004, the drop was 15 percent. Ohio and Vermont posted an 11 percent drop. In Mississippi, the rate dropped 9 percent. In Oregon, 8 percent.”