Which States have Best Integration Rates for Prison Inmates?

By  //  December 10, 2020

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The primary purpose of prison is to serve as a place where people who have committed criminal offenses can be rehabilitated and ultimately reintegrated back into society effectively once they have served their time.

Of course, some states are better equipped to achieve their rehabilitation aims than others, and the figures on this subject make for interesting reading.

Here is a quick look at the states which are most successful in ensuring that their prison system prepares inmates for reintegration, and the reasons behind this.

Understanding averages

Before diving in, it is worth noting that on average the recidivism rate, meaning the number of prisoners who are rearrested within 1 year of being released, is currently at around 44%. This rises to 83% when extending the period covered to 9 years, revealing the extent of the issue at hand.

Access to these statistics is important, as it allows the authorities to better adjust their policies to reduce this rate. Likewise, improving access to data of all kinds is good for society as a whole; for example, since you can search for an offender in any North Carolina prison, the barriers which used to exist have been eroded by the smooth flow of information.

Appreciating success stories

Given that the national average for recidivism, and thus the contrasting rate for the integration of prison inmates back into society, is comparatively high, it is reassuring to see that there are some outliers that are able to buck trends and forge their own path towards a brighter future for the majority of the citizens that are incarcerated.

Oklahoma is an interesting case in this respect; it is second only to Louisiana in terms of the percentage of its population that is incarcerated, yet almost 80% of prisoners are able to return to society without reoffending for at least 3 years, well above the average.

Virginia and South Carolina are similarly noteworthy, both boasting the same 76.9% reintegration rates. Florida also has something to shout about, given that three-quarters of offenders can return to their normal, free lives without being arrested again following on from a period of imprisonment.

In other areas, such as Idaho, the reason behind relatively successful rates of integration is that crime rates, on the whole, are lower than average. Less crime means fewer criminals and a lower likelihood of reoffending.

Analyzing anomalies

The states which are good are returning prisoners to polite society need to be seen in contrast to those that have a long way to go in this regard.

In Delaware, for example, just a third of inmates can be expected to remain free from arrest within 3 years of being released. Things are a little better in Alaska, where recidivism rates sit at 63.2% at the moment.

Clearly, there is a long way to go for all states, as double-digit recidivism rates are the norm, and it would be good to see greater efforts put into integration across the board. Even so, the fact that this is being handled well in some regions gives evidence that change is possible.