“Three Strikes Law”
It was during the 1990’s that great emphasis was placed on getting tough on criminal activity. As a result, there was a significant increase in the prison population. Beginning with Washington State in 1993, an initiative was placed on the ballot to require a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for third time offenders due to the tragic death of Diane Ballasiotes, who was murdered by a convicted rapist who had been released from prison (Austin, Clark, Hardyman, and Henry, 2000). The State of California followed in pursuit due to the kidnapping and murder of Polly Klass by a California inmate (with an extensive prior record) who had been released from prison (Austin, Clark, Hardyman, and Henry, 2000). By the end of the decade, the “three strikes” law was enacted in the federal government and over half of the United States (Vitello, 2002). It was also during that time that there was a decline in crime rate; however, there is no evidence that the “three strikes” law was responsible for the decline (Vitello, 2002).
Washington’s “Three Strikes Law”
In 1993, Washington was the first state to pass a “Three Stirkes” policy (Lacourse, 1997). According to Lacourse (1997), it began in 1991 at the Washington Institute for Policy Studies as a summer research project. They reviewed sentencing practices for violent, career criminals and made recommendations when applicable.
According to Lacourse (1997), the team felt the need for a new policy which was clear and understandable. If one was convicted of a third serious felony, they should be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. They believed there should be no furloughs, parole or time off for good behavior. They believed the only way one should be released from prison was to be granted a pardon of clemency by the Governor. They also proposed that a pardon or clemency not occur unless the offender was both over the age of 60 and deemed no longer a threat to society.
Michael Elton Johnson and Washington’s Three Strikes Law
Michael Elton Johnson was one of the first to be sentenced under the “Three Strikes” law (Lacourse, 1997). According to Lacourse (1997), his first strike was the 1976 second-degree murder rape in Montana where he dragged a 14-year old girl into the woods and raped her. His second strike occurred after his release from prison in 1980 when he committed second-degree rape of a 15-year old girl in the Wenatchee area during a burglary. His third strike for second-degree assault occurred a month after his release from prison in 1991. He cut his wife’s face and neck, rammed a 9-inch bladed knife into her mouth, pointed a pellet gun at her head and told her he could kill her at any time. At that time, “Three Strikes” was only a concept so he received a two-year sentence instead of life without parole. As a result, Johnson continue preying on women and children. He was once again arrested for domestic violence and malicious mischief in Snohomish County for beating his wife and followed a 17-year old girl into a ferry boat restroom. He moved to Oregon for a brief period and raped his sister and threatened her life before moving back to Washington. He was also charged with fourth-degree assault for putting a woman in a headlock.
On December 25, 1993, Johnson raped the 16-year old daughter of a woman he befriended in Springdale and kidnapped the woman and her daughter (Lacourse, 1997). He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping in exchange for the kidnapping charge, rape of his sister, and the non-strike assaults being dropped. Under the “three strikes” law, he was sentenced to life without parole for the last three rapes, two kidnappings, and four other assaults.
Charles Ben Finch and Washington’s Three Strikes Law
According to Lacourse (1997), Charles Ben Finch had always been a violent predator. His first strike occurred in 1970 when he was convicted of assault and battery with a deadly weapon in Oklahoma. He was convicted of two non-strike burglaries the same year and was incarcerated for three years but paroled in 1971. His second strike occurred in 1976 for a first-degree manslaughter conviction in Oklahoma. He was sentenced to four years; however, he did not serve the complete sentence. June 1979, he arrived in Seattle where he committed his third strike for first-degree rape of an elderly widow during a burglary. He was paroled nine years later. In the summer of 1994, he committed his fourth strike. He walked into a mobile home occupied by his estranged wife and fatally shot a visiting man in the head. He also threatened his wife and her mother with the weapon. Finch then called the police and opened fire when they responded. As a result, a Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff was killed. Finch was sentenced to death for the murders he had committed.
Martin T. Shandel and Washington’s Three Strikes Law
Martin T. Shandel was a five-striker who specialized in rape (Lacourse, 1997). His first strike was for sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl in 1967, and he was paroled in 1969. His second strike as for raping a 13-year old girl who he saw walking along a country road in 1971. He stopped his car and forced her into a wooded area and raped her, His third-strike was for second-degree assault with a knife occurred when he forced a woman off the road, brandished a knife, and broke out her car window. He grabbed her arm; however, he was scared off by a witness. He was paroled six years later. His fourth strike occurred when he raped a 37-year old woman he was visiting in 1985. She asked him to leave her home, and he attacked her. He was released in 1994. Less than a year later, in 1995, he committee his fifth strike for second-degree rape of his sister-in-law. He was convicted under the “three strikes” law and sentenced to life without parole.
Paul and Stonney Rivers and Washington’s Three Strikes Law
According to Lacourse (1997), their first strike was when Paul, Stonney, and another brother name Rodney Rivers, confronted and detained a man in 1985. Stonney slugged the victim while Paul told Rodney to take his wallet (Lacourse, 1997). Paul was sentenced to five months and Stonney to seven months. Strike two occurred when Paul, Stonney, and a fourth brother named Larry Rivers, robbed a man working in an adult movie theater and hit him in the face as he attempted to call 911. Paul and Stonney Rivers were sentenced to 17 months. Strike three for second-degree was for an assault in 1989 when they pulled a man from his car, kicked him, and smashed his head into a brick wall. Paul was sentenced to 50 months and Stonney to 15 months. Paul’s fourth strike for second-degree robbery occurred in late 1993 when he claimed to have a gun during the robbery and threatened the victim. He was convicted under the “three strikes” law and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Stonney’s fourth strike was for first-degree robbery when he and two accomplices, lured a man into a hotel room and attacked him.
Dwight Anthony Griffin and Washington’s Three Strikes Law
According to Lacourse (1997), Griffin was a persistent street criminal. His first strike was for three robberies in 1975. In each of those cases, he told his victims he had a gun. His second strike was for second-degree robbery of a gas station in 1980. His third strike was for second-degree robbery of a knitting shop in 1986. His fourth strike occurred in 1989 for four robberies in the second-degree. His fifth strike occurred in 1994 for the attempted robbery of a woman who was walking to her bank carrying a cash deposit bag. When she refused to give him the money, he knocked her to the ground and began striking her and beating her head into the ground. Under the “three strikes” law, he was sentenced to life without parole
California’s “Three Strikes Law”
On March 7, 1994, Governor Wilson signed into law AB 971 (CH 12/94, Jones) which is better known as the “Three Strikes and You’re Out (Legislative Analyst’s Office, 1995). In January, the Three Strikes and You’re Out Law was published to provide more up-to-date data and recommended that states closely monitor the implementations and impact of the Three Strikes law.
Jo Ann Harris, Assistant Attorney General (1995), states the purpose of the Anti-Violent Crime initiative was to work with state and local counterparts to take violent criminals off the streets. If the criminal offense involved a firearm, the Armed Career Criminal Act could be used to achieve the prolonged incarceration of armed, violent offenders. Under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the judicial system was given the ability to enforce the “Three Strikes, You’re Out” provision, to help deal with violent repeat offenders.
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (1995), thousands of offenders were being charged under the provisions of the “Three Strikes” law. By the end of August 1994, there were more than 7,400 second and third strike cases filed statewide. By the end of November 1994, there were more than 5,000 second and third strike cases filed with the courts. Fewer defendants were pleading guilty and were taking their cases to jury trial and were taking the risk of them being convicted of second or third strike offenses. Because fewer defendants were taking plea bargains, there was an increase of the number of jury trials. Most counties were setting bail for second strike offenders at twice the usual bail amount and refused bail for third strike offenders. According to Vitello (2002), California’s sentence enhancements included a 25 to year life term, and they could also double the nominal sentence for second strike offenders. Their provisions included residential burglary as a possible qualifying strike. Also, the third strike could also be considered a felony.
Jones (2012 states a repeat offender convicted of three qualifying felonies would receive a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life, and the criminal offense did not have to be violent in nature. By 2005, he states there were over 87,500 second and third-strike convictions which proved to be costly to taxpayers. Although the War on Drugs has contributed to prison overpopulation, a study of California’s prison population revealed they made up a small portion of the prison population. (See Figure 1)
Figure 1 – the number of prisoners incarcerated in California and those for drug offenses
Philip Reese (2016) the number of felons serving time under California’s three strikes law fell to a 15-year low in 2015. He also reported the number of three strike felons decreased from 8,900 in late 2012, to 6.900 in 2015 which reflects a 23% decline. A prison realignment plan by Governor Jerry Brown showed a reduction in the overall number of felons from 170,000 to 127,000 in 2015. He also mentioned the fact that California prisons were designed to hold about 85,000 inmates.
Reese (2016) states in 2012, California’s law was amended to require the three strikes sentencing rules would only be applied when the third offense involved a violent felony. Proposition 36 would also allow existing third-strike inmates to petition the court for a sentence reduction if their terms would have been eligible for a lesser sentence under the new law. In 2014, Proposition 47 was passed which reclassified several nonviolent crimes. (See Figure 2)
Figure 2 – Third strike prisoners in California after the passing of Proposition 47.
Philip Reese (2016) also revealed a racial disparity among those sentenced under the three strikes law. His study revealed a total of 6,894 inmates were incarcerated; however, African Americans made up a disproportionate share of three strikers. (See Figure 3)
Figure 3 – Shows the disproportion of three strike offenders by race.
It is anticipated the California Burglaries and Robberies without Physical Harm Exempt from Three-Strikes Sentencing Law Initiative (#17-0046) may appear November 6, 2018, on California’s ballot (Ballotpedia.com). If approved, the statute would remove crimes of burglary and robbery that do not cause significant bodily harm, and those that do not involve a firearm or other dangerous weapon, from the list of violent felonies (Ballotpedia.com). As a result, those crimes would not count as third-strikes which would life the minimum sentencing requirements. However, it would also allow inmates who are currently incarcerated as third-strike offenders the ability to request a resentencing (ballotpedia.com).
If the initiative is approved, the implementation would result in releases and shortened sentences (ballotpedia.com). The revenue would go into the People Fair Sentencing and Public Safety Act of 2018 Fund which would be distributed as follows:
25% to elementary, middle, and high school public education
25% to community colleges and universities specifically to reduce tuition
25% to programs for the rehabilitation of prison inmates
25% to programs to prevent youth crime
Louisiana’s Three Strikes Law
Eric Johnson (2018) states Louisiana is known as “the world’s prison capital” because of its high rate of incarceration. He states most countries have an inmate population of 400 inmates per 100,000 adults. Louisiana has an inmate population of 816 inmates per 100,000 adults.
Louisiana’s three strikes law allows for harsher penalties for prior felony convictions in other states if the criminal offense would be a felony if committed in Louisiana (Johnson, 2018). He also states someone who receives a second felony conviction faces a longer sentence than the minimum allowed because their first conviction would work as an aggravating factor. A second conviction faces a harsher minimum penalty than a first-time offender, and a third felony conviction faces a minimum penalty of two-thirds the maximum penalty for a first-time offender. A fourth felony conviction could result in a minimum of 20 years in prison with hard labor and a maximum of natural life without parole.
The “Three Strikes” Provisions
Harris (1995) states the defendant will receive mandatory life imprisonment if he or she is convicted in federal court of a “serious violent felony” and has two or more prior convictions in federal or state courts (at least one which is a “serious violent felony” and a prior offense which is a “serious drug offense”). Murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, kidnapping, robbery, and any offense punishable by 10 years or more which includes an element of force would be considered a “serious violent felony.” By 1997, 24 states and the federal government enacted laws using the phrase, “Three Strikes, and You’re Out.”
According to Austin, Clark, Hardyman, and Henry (2000), the “three strikes” provisions apply to violent felonies such as murder, rape, robbery, arson, and assaults, some states added non-violent offenses such as: the sale of drugs drug offenses can be punishable and by imprisonment for more than five years to Louisiana, the sale of drugs to minors, burglary, and weapons possession in California, escapes in Florida, treason in Washington, and embezzlement and bribery in South Carolina.
Pros of the Three Strikes Law
. Occupy Theory (2015) states there are three pros of the three strikes law:
1) Habitual Offenders are Discouraged – It is believed that one will clean up their act if they no they face life in prison.
2) Crime Rates are Reduced – It is believed that removing criminals from the streets will help to reduce the amount of criminal activity.
3) Citizens Enjoy Peace of Mind – It is believed that citizens feel safe when criminals are removed form the streets.
The Balanced Politics Organization also states the following as pros for the three strikes law:
1) It is a fix for a flawed justice system because repeat offenders remain in prison. The three strikes law ensures justice is done when the system fails.
2) It is an effective deterrent for a second conviction. It is believed the three strikes law will discourage offenders from becoming repeat offenders.
3) The law applies to three convictions; not three crimes. The system is flawed and offenders may not be convicted due to lack of evidence or having a good attorney.
Reasons to Oppose the Three Strikes Laws
The American Civil Liberties Union has listed 10 reasons to oppose the three strikes, you’re out law. They believe the three strikes law is just another name for habitual offender laws and recidivist statues. The oppositions are as follows:
1) Although they believe the government is justified in harsh punishment for repeat offenders, they believe it is “overkill.”
2) Because most violent crimes are not premeditated and are committed out of anger, there is no evidence to support a finding that the three strikes law will deter violent crimes.
3) They believe it could result in an increase in violence because law enforcement believes criminals facing mandatory life sentences will more than likely try to resist arrest, kill witnesses, or attempt prison escapes.
4) They believe the three strikes law will add to the backlogs the courts have experienced due to the “war on drugs.” Because most defendants are indigent and require public defenders, the expense will be absorbed by taxpayers.
5) Judges don’t have the discretion to weigh both mitigating and aggravating circumstances before imposing a sentence. By eliminating the possibility of parole, defendants will not be given a second chance to prove to society that they have been reformed.
6) As prisoners get older, there will be an increase in their medical expenses.
7) Because many of the drug offenses are included as prior strikes, there is a high probability that minority offenders will be affected by the three strikes law.
8) Because the three strikes proposal encompasses a broad range of criminal conduct, an offender could be imprisoned to a life sentence for a crime that doesn’t warrant such harsh punishment.
9) The punishment will not always fit the crime.
10) It is believed that harsh sentences will not necessarily result in a reduction in criminal activity.
The Balanced Politics Organization also believes there are cons to the three strikes law such as:
1) The law takes away the flexibility of the courts and the judge.
2) It is unjust when sentencing one for victimless crimes, young criminals, etc.
3) Criminals often plea bargain after their first two convictions without the knowledge that a plea bargain can be subject to the three strikes law.
4) The 8th Amendment prohibits the use of cruel or unjust punishment.
5) A second felony conviction almost guarantees the cost and time of a trial.
6) Incarcerating someone for life is costly and adds to an overcrowded prison system.
Long Prison Sentences
Undergraduate honors students at the University of Washington’s Law, Societies and Justice program, analyzed the number of lifers in Washington prisons, the legal processes that lead to life sentences, and the cost of housing those inmates. (Association of American Universities, 2015). The study pertained to felony cases from July 1985 to July 2013, more than 600,600 in total (Association of American Universities, 2015). They determined:
1) One in five (19.3 percent) of inmates in Washington were serving life sentence.
2) 11.3 percent were serving life with parole
3) One in nine were serving an official life sentence.
4) De facto lifers make up almost half the state’s life without parole population.
5) African Americans make up about four percent of the population (28 percent of prisoners serving life with parole.
6) The average life without parole sentence costs taxpayers $2.4 million.
7) Half of those serving life sentences were sentenced under the three strikes law.
The students at the University of Washington also determined discrepancies in the life sentences given to those inmates who opted for trail compared to those who accepted a plea bargain. Those tried for homicide got sentences of 9.6 percent longer while those who were tried for first-degree assault got sentences 45.3 percent longer than those who accepted a plea-bargain (Association of American Universities, 2015).
Austin Jenkins (2014) states Washington’s Clemency and Pardons Board receives approximately 60 to 100 petitions a year. Many are from former inmates, and others are for current inmates who want an early release from incarceration. In order for an inmate to be granted clemency, he has to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances. Petitions for clemency crossed the desk of an attorney named Richard Mitchell who believed inmates needed to have legal help because many inmates did not know how to present their cases in a way that was very persuasive. He also felt a disadvantage to clemency was the affect it has on crime victims and their families when they have to relieve the criminal act.
How States Have Addressed Aging Prisoners
Kevin McCarthy (2013) wrote a report pertaining to the way states have addressed their aging or medically infirmed inmates. The states he discusses include:
1. California – California has a law that allows the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to contracts with public or private entities in order to establish and operate skilled nursing facilities. The main objective was to care for inmates with limited ability to perform daily activity. As of 2015, California had not used that law and was building a 1,722-bed prison in Stockton.
2. Florida – Florida has four facilities designate to house their elderly prisoners, Inmates are assigned to facilities based on their medical needs. In June 30, 2011, the Department of Correction reported 17,492 elderly inmates which was approximately 17.1% of their total inmate population. The south side of the Central Florida Reception Center was designated for elderly and palliative care inmates. Zephyrhills Correctional Institution has two dorms allocated for elderly inmates and inmates with complex medical needs. River Junction Work Camp was designated for minimum or medium security elderly inmates who are in good health and able to work. The F-Dorm at the South Florida Reception Center was designated for palliative and long-term care and provided a step down care for inmates who could be discharged from the hospital but were not ready for an infirmary level of care at an institution.
3. Louisiana – The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola has hospice for prisoners who are near the end of their life. Approximately 85% of the 5,100 inmates were expected to die in prison. A program was created by the University Hospital Community Hospice in New Orleans which would be staffed by prison staff and inmate volunteers to provide support care in the prison infirmary.
4. Connecticut – Connecticut has a hospice program.
5. Nevada – Nevada has programs for the elderly that address rehabilitation and diseases. The Northern Nevada Correctional Center created a Senior Structured Living Program to serve their offenders aged 60 and older. All participants are required to participate in daily and weekly therapy activities.
6. New York has a unit for the cognitively impaired at their Fishkill Correctional Facility primarily for inmates with dementia. Their main objective is to prisoners with dementia. An article in the New York Times dated February 26, 2012, stated the unit had cared for 84 inmates between 2006 and early 2012. The cost was approximately $93,000 per bed annually compare to $41,000 in general population.
7. Pennsylvania serves sick and elderly inmates at their Laurel Highland facility. They can accommodate up to 1,400 inmates. Their inmates aged 50 and older increased from 370 inmates in 1980 to 8,462 by 2010.
8. Virginia houses their elderly at the Deerfield Correctional Center. From 1990 to 2010, the number of elderly inmates increased from 822 to 5,697. The Department of Corrections noted their geriatric prisoners leaving the correctional system posed specific re-entry challenges.
9. Washington has an assisted living unit at their Coyote Ridge correctional facility which can accommodate approximately 75 inmates. Inmates had to be disabled and considered a minimum risk. As of 2011, the had 2,495 inmates age 50 or older.
Variations in State Strikes Laws
According to the National Institute of Justice (1997), Different states have variations; however, they do have similarities. Some similarities are violent felonies (murder, rape, robbery, arson, aggravated assault, and carjacking) with a few variations. (See Figure 4)
States Strike Zone Defined Strikes Needed
to be Out Meaning of “Out”
Arkansas Murder, kidnaping, rape, terrorist act
First-degree battery, firing gun from vehicle, use of prohibited weapon, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnaping, robbery, rape, first-degree battery, or first-degree sexual abuse Two
Three Not less than 40 years in prison; no parole
Range of no parole sentences, depending on the offense
California Any felony if one prior felony conviction from list of strikable offenses
Any felony if two prior felony convictions from list of strikable offenses Two
Three Mandatory sentence of twice the term for the offense involved
Mandatory indeterminate life sentence, with no parole eligibility for 25 years
Colorado Any Class 1 or 2 felony or any Class 3 felony that is violent Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility for 40 years
Connecticut Murder, attempt murder, assault with intent to kill, manslaughter, arson, kidnaping, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, first-degree assault Two
Three Up to 40 years in prison
Up to life in prison
Florida Any forcible felony, aggravated stalking, aggravated child abuse, lewd or indecent conduct, escape Three Life if third strike involves first-degree felony, 30-40 years if second-degree felony, 10-15 years if third-degree felony
Georgia Murder, armed robbery, kidnaping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery Two Mandatory life without parole
Indiana Murder, rape, sexual battery with weapon, child molestation, arson, robbery, burglary with weapon or resulting in serious injury, drug dealing Three Mandatory life without possibility of parole
Kansas Any felony against a person
Any felony against a person Two
Three Court may double term specified in sentencing guidelines
Court may triple term specified in sentencing guidelines
Louisiana Murder, attempt murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery, kidnaping, any drug offense punishable by more than 5 years, any felony punishable by more than 12 years
Any four felony convictions if at least one was on the above list Three
Four Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Maryland Any four felony convictions if at least one was on the above list Four, with separate prison terms served for first three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Montana Deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnaping, sexual intercourse without consent, ritual abuse of a minor
Mitigated deliberate homicide, aggravated assault, kidnaping, robbery Two
Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Nevada Murder, robbery, kidnaping, battery, abuse of child,, arson, home invasion Three Court has option to sentence offender to one of the following: life without parole, life with parole possible after 10 years, or 25 years with parole possible after 10 years
New Jersey Murder, robbery, carjacking Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
New Mexico Murder, shooting at or from vehicle and causing harm, kidnaping, criminal sexual penetration, armed robbery resulting in harm Three Mandatory life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years
North Carolina 47 violent felonies; separate indictment is required with finding that offender is a “violent habitual offender” Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
North Dakota Any Class A, B, or C felony Two If second strike is for Class A felony, court may impose extended sentence of up to life; if Class B felony, up to 20 years; if Class C felony, up to 10 years
Pennsylvania Murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, arson, kidnaping, robbery, aggravated assault
Same offense Two
Three Enhanced sentence of up to 10 years
Enhanced sentence of up to 25 years
South Carolina Murder, voluntary manslaughter, homicide by child abuse, rape, kidnaping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, embezzlement, bribery, certain accessory and attempt offenses Two Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Tennessee Murder, especially aggravated kidnaping, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated arson
Same as above, plus rape, aggravate sexual battery, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated child abuse, aggravated sexual exploitation of child Two, if prison term served for first strike
Three, if separate prison terms served for first two strikes Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Utah Any first- or second-degree felony Three Court may sentence from 5 years up to life
Vermont Murder, manslaughter, arson causing death, assault and robbery with weapon or causing bodily injury, aggravated assault, kidnaping, maiming, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated domestic assault, lewd conduct with child Three Court may sentence up to life in prison
Virginia Murder, kidnaping, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault, conspiracy to commit any of above Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Washington Charges listed in exhibit 1 Three Mandatory life in prison with parole eligibility
Wisconsin Murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, aggravated battery, abuse of child, robbery, sexual assault, taking hostages, kidnaping, arson, burglary Three Mandatory life in prison with no parole eligibility
Figure 4 – The Variations in State Strikes Laws
Bettye Miller (2012) wrote an article for UCR Today in reference to the three-strikes law.
A sociology professor Robert Nash Parker analyzed the crime in California. He could not find any evidence to support a finding that the three-strikes law is a crime deterrent. His findings supported the fact violent crimes had actually begun to decline two years prior to California enacting the three-strikes law. He believed alcohol consumption and unemployment played a significant role in violent crimes.
A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Alper, Durose, and Markman, 2018) of 67,966 state prisoners released in 2005. It revealed five in six (83%) of state prisoners released in 2005 from across 30 states were arrested at least once in nine years following their release from incarceration. The other 17% were arrested during the 9-year follow-up period. About four in nine (44%) were arrested at least once during their first year. About one in three (34%) were arrested during their third year, and one in four (24%) during their ninth year.
The Burau of Justice Statistics (Alper, Durose, and Markman, 2018), conducted a follow-up study in 2015 and collect the criminal history records on the same prisoners. Approximately 3,350 of those prisoners had died; therefore, the recidivism estimates increased 15% when the follow-up period was extended from three to nine years. Sixty-eight percent of the prisoners had been arrested for a new crime three-years after release, and 79% were arrested after six years. At the end of the nine-year follow-up period, the recidivism rate had increased to 83%. They collected date on the percent of prisoners who were arrested after release (See Figure 5) and annual arrest percentage (See Figure 6).
Figure 5 – Percent of prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 who were arrested after release by prisoner characteristics and year of first arrest
Figure 6 – Annual arrest percentage of prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 by prisoner characteristics and year of release.