A new study from the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission found higher rearrest rates among formerly incarcerated people who were in solitary confinement or in a high security risk classification when they were released from prison.
Just under half of the 16,340 people released from prison in the 2019 Fiscal Year were rearrested in the two years following their release. That number climbs to 55% for those in restrictive housing, a temporary housing assignment where the incarcerated spends 22 or more hours a day in a cell, and 65% for those in close custody at the time they were released from prison. Such a form of confinement involves constant supervision because the person present an escape risk, won’t follow the rules or was convicted of a particularly serious crime.
Conversely, people who held jobs while imprisoned — whether construction, work release or were employed with Correction Enterprises — had lower rearrest and re-incarceration rates. Those who participated in educational opportunities also had lower recidivism rates.
Michelle Hall, from the Sentencing Policy and Advisory Commission, presented the data Thursday morning to members of the Joint Appropriation Committees on Justice and Public Safety. The figures are based on the 47,090 people either released from prison or put on probation in the 2019 Fiscal Year. The bulk of that number — 65% — refers to people on probation.
The average age of the people studied was 35. Most were male, over half were white, 44% were Black. Almost 60% had dropped out of high school. More than three-quarters had a possible substance use problem.
Over 40% of those studied were rearrested in the two years following their placement on supervision or release from prison. But most of them didn’t wind up back behind bars. Just 16% were convicted of another crime. Those on probation were less likely to wind up rearrested and locked up again than those who spent time in prison.
Younger people were much more likely to get arrested or sent back to prison. The report suggests targeting interventions toward people who repeatedly commit crimes, since a person’s criminal history is strongly correlated recidivism.
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