Recidivism in Philadelphia
Below is the only report done on recidivism in Philadelphia recent years (as of the time of this report in 2008). Recidivism is not in the 70% range as Mayor Nutter and the Urban Institute alleged.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
- Reincarceration rates decreased between 2000 and 2006. The general rate of reincarceration at one year fluctuated between 30 and 45%, with an average around 35% between 2000 and 2006 (Page 23).
- Recidivism in Philadelphia is not 70% (page 63), not even after 7 years.
- The percentage of inmates discharged who had their first incarceration in the PPS increased between 2001 and 2007. This finding suggests two things: 1) that reincarceration is not the driving force behind the PPS population crisis, and 2) the PPS population was populated by a growing percentage first-time inmates (Page 27).
- Increased new admissions and increased length of stay are the driving force behind the PPS population crisis (see pages 29 and 37 for LOS, and 29 for admissions).
- As the number of career incarcerations increases in the inmate population, the percentage of inmates with serious mental illness (SMI) also increases with inmates who have higher numbers of career admissions—the City reincarcerates the seriously mentally ill at high rates (Page 21).
- The largest percentage of reincarceration occurs in the first year of release and within that first year, most reincarceration occurs within the first six months of release.
- At any given time, just over 20% of inmates in the PPS are incarcerated on a most serious charge that is related to violence; while just less than 80% of the inmates in the PPS are incarcerated on a most serious charge not related to violence.
- About 48% of inmates are incarcerated for drug related charges (Page 16).
- Drug offenses are the most prevalent reason for inmate reincarceration, followed by violence related charges (Page 18-19). Robbery was the leading cause within violence related reasons.
- Drug offenders reincarcerated for distribution-related offenses outnumber possession related offenses by a ratio of approximately 4:1 to 8:1, depending on the year.
- The average offender age is 31 years and the most frequently occurring age is 20 or 21 years old, depending on the year. Female desistance begins after about 45 years of age. Females, however, do not have a specific most frequently occurring age and are represented evenly from their early 20s until their mid 40s (Pages 30-36).
- The length of incarceration seems to have no relationship with deterrence – longer stays do not seem to decrease reincarceration (Pages 37-42).
- Most inmates have only 1 to 3 readmissions in the PPS; less than 7% of inmates have 10 or more admissions (Page 20).
- Race is not a strong predictor of who will be reincarcerated on VOP (Page 52).
- “Other legal violation” offenders (marginal and non-violent) are not reincarcerated at the same rate as more serious offenders (Page 59).