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Michigan recidivism rate falls to its lowest level in state history

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Posted at 11:10 AM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 21:25:36-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Now best in the country, the recidivism rate in Michigan has dropped to the lowest rate in state history.

Michigan’s recidivism rate measures the percentage of offenders who return to prison within three years of release. That rate is now 26.7 percent.

Last year, the department’s recidivism was at 29.1 percent – which had been the second lowest level since the state began recording the three-year rates.

The state’s lowest recidivism rate previously came in 2018 when 28.1 percent of offenders were returned to prison following their release.

“I am grateful for the hard work of the Michigan Department of Corrections professionals and leadership of Director Heidi Washington, which has brought Michigan to this important milestone,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. “Incarceration affects more than just the person going to prison—it impacts whole families and entire communities. That is why it is important for us to focus on smart reforms, like those made at the MDOC, so fewer people return to prison or find themselves there in the first place. Michigan is already a leader in the field, and we will continue to work hard to make sure the system works for more people.”

Offenders can be returned to prison for committing new crimes, or for violating the conditions of their parole. The current figures represent individuals who were released from prison in 2016.

Recidivism in Michigan has hovered around 30 percent in recent years and it reflects a sharp drop from 1998 when the rate was 45.7 percent.

Michigan’s new rate places it among the top 10 in the country. Last month, the Virginia Department of Corrections announced the lowest rate in the country at 23.1 percent.

“We are committed to making our communities safer places to live by providing returning citizens with the education and skills they need to be successful,” said Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “We’re proud of our hard work and efforts that have driven down recidivism rates to an historic, all-time low. Michigan is a national leader in criminal justice reform and we remain focused on improving long-term public safety by preparing those who leave prison to stay home to support themselves and their families as law-abiding citizens.”

The department’s “Offender Success” model aims to provide prisoners with education, skills and job training in high-demand fields that can lead to stable careers and lower the risk of re-offense. Training program provides training in automotive technology, welding, CNC machining, robotics, computer coding, commercial truck driving, forklift operation, carpentry, plumbing, electrical trades and concrete and masonry work.

In addition, the department has introduced new, evidence-based methods of supervision that have shown positive results in helping offenders on parole or probation continue down a more successful path. Some of those methods include agent-directed case management, Motivational Interviewing and the use of Carey Guides, which help agents focus on offender needs and reinforce positive behavior.