Ex-convicts returning to prison declining in Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio - The rate at which Ohio ex-convicts are being sent back to prison has been going down, to well below national rates.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the recidivism rate for Ohio was 28.7 percent in 2009. That's the last year for which that statistics are available, because the rate measures the number of inmates returned to prison within three years.

However, the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says its internal tracking indicates that the trend is continuing.

"Realistically, there is a point where you plateau, but you need to think you can always do better, and I think we will do better," said Linda Janes, the department's chief of staff. "I think it's the most important thing we have is to push that recidivism rate down."

The rate in 2003 was 39.5 percent. Cutting the rate is good news for taxpayers. Besides meaning there are fewer crimes and victims, the lower return rate saves some $14 million a year. For each inmate who doesn't return, Ohio saves some $23,800, plus the long-term costs of building more prisons.

Ohio's rate has dropped slowly but surely since 2003, dropping to 31.2 percent in 2008. The 28.7 rate compares to a national rate of some 45 percent.

One expert says Ohio has done a good job in programs for inmates and in its assessments.

"Ohio has a very impressive drop in recidivism that can be directly tied to the types of programming and assessments that work," said David D'Amora, National Initiatives division director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center . "It is very genuine. Ohio is clearly a leader in the field."

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