Prisoner Releases:

Trends and Information on Reintegration Programs

GAO-01-483: Published: Jun 18, 2001. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2001.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
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The number of federal and state inmates released to communities increased more than threefold from 1980 to 1998. Since 1980, recidivism rates have been about 40 percent. Within the group of recidivists, the number of offenders reincarcerated for violating parole or other release conditions rose more than sevenfold from 1980 to 1998. Furthermore, such reincarcerations represent an increasing proportion of all prison admissions. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) 1997 survey found that most federal offenders (62 percent) were imprisoned for drug offense convictions, and almost half (47 percent) of all state offenders were incarcerated for violent offense convictions. Also, the majority of inmates in both correctional systems--federal inmates (73 percent) and state inmates (83 percent)--had some history of illegal drug use. BJS' survey also showed that 27 percent of both federal and state exit cohort inmates participated in vocational training programs, and 11 percent of federal and 2 percent of state exit cohort inmates worked in prison industry jobs. In addition, 33 percent of the federal inmates and 36 percent of the state inmates participated in residential in-patient treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse. In the federal correctional system, an inmate's preparation for reintegration generally encompasses three phases--the prerelease, halfway house, and community supervision. Under the Offender Reentry Initiative, federal discretionary grants would be provided to help states and communities work together to improve offender supervision and accountability--and essential support services--to minimize public safety issues posed by high-risk or special-needs offenders released from state prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, and local facilities housing state prisoners. A solicitation for grants is expected by the end of May 2001, and awards are expected to be made by the end of September 2001.

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