Virginia Posts Lowest Recidivism Rate in the Country for Second Straight Year

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Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release:

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that, for the second year in a row, Virginia’s re-incarceration rate is the lowest in the country among states for which data was available, at 22.4 percent.

The Commonwealth’s recidivism rate has fallen a full percentage point since last year. Among the 45 states that report three-year incarceration rates for felons, no other state correctional system reports a lower rate.

“I am proud of the work my administration has done to pursue policies and initiatives that rehabilitate incarcerated individuals, helping them develop the tools and skills they need to be successful,” said Governor McAuliffe. “A low recidivism rate means fewer victims, it means safer communities, and it means we are returning offenders to their communities better prepared to be productive, law-abiding Virginians.”

Like most states, Virginia counts its official recidivism rate as the percentage of offenders who return to state responsible incarceration within three years of being released.

The rate was calculated by following offenders released to the community in 2013 for three years. Of the 11,576 offenders released from incarceration in Virginia in fiscal year 2013, 2,588 were re-incarcerated within three years.

“Reentry preparation begins the day the Department of Corrections receives an offender,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “VADOC staff are dedicated to helping offenders make better choices, and this administration is dedicated to policies that give incarcerated offenders the tools they need to be successful.”

Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) tailors its programming and supervision to address each offender’s criminogenic risks and needs in keeping with the agency’s mission to enhance the quality of life in the Commonwealth by improving public safety.

About ninety-three percent of individuals incarcerated in Virginia will one day be released back into their communities.

“We are in the business of helping people to be better,” said Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke. “Virginia’s leading rate is due to the successful reentry programming and treatment offered by the Department of Corrections during an offender’s incarceration, and the effective supervision in the community after release through VADOC Probation & Parole.”

In Virginia, reentry preparation starts with a risk and needs assessment when an offender enters the VADOC. From offender training and education programs, work programs, resource fairs, veterans’ programs, and offender savings accounts to a partnership with the Department of Motor Vehicles to get offenders DMV-issued state identification before they leave prison, the VADOC is operating a multitude of successful, evidence-based reentry programs.

Due to limitations in the capacity of state facilities, some VADOC offenders serve their entire incarceration in a local or regional jail.

The number of VADOC offenders who were released from jails without having served time in a VADOC facility rose from one-quarter of total VADOC releases in 2009 to approximately one-half in 2016.

For VADOC offenders who serve their entire incarceration in a local or regional jail, the re-incarceration rate is 25.5%. Taking those offenders out of the total, the re-incarceration rate for those offenders in VADOC facilities is 20.3%.

The re-incarceration rate for offenders with mental health diagnoses is 29.3%. Those who served their entire incarceration in a local or regional jail and have a mental health diagnosis have a recidivism rate of 51.8%.  

More information on the VADOC can be found at www.vadoc.virginia.gov.