Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

April 10, 2009

Recidivism rates falling

Rehab programs contribute to decrease in repeat offenders

Changing the thinking patterns of criminal offenders is one key to keeping them from reoffending, prison officials say.

From looking at the number of repeat offenders in state prisons, it must be working, as the recidivism rate over the past three years has declined, the Indiana Department of Correction reported.

Officials at the IDOC have studied and monitored Indiana’s recidivism rates for four years and found the overall recidivism rate has gone down for the third consecutive year, falling to 37.4 percent.

DOC officials attribute the improving recidivism numbers to their focus on the successful re-entry of offenders.

At the Miami Correctional Facility, offenders are offered multiple programs aimed at rehabilitation, said public information officer Ann Hubbard.

Hubbard said the DOC tries to make its prisons more than just a place to house criminals. If they choose, inmates can work on issues such as substance abuse and anger management. They can take classes on fatherhood and on character and faith development.

“You can see a change in men who get involved in these programs,” Hubbard said. “They change their way of thinking. They realize there is more to life than just themselves, and they realize what they’ve done to other people.”

To ensure an offender leads a lawful life once released, DOC tries to instill the tools needed for success outside prison walls. Hubbard believes that approach is good for all Indiana communities.

“We have to do something,” she said. “These people in here, most are going to get out, and if we don’t do something to better their lives and improve the quality of their lives, they’re certainly not going to improve the quality of our lives when they get out.”

The IDOC defines recidivism as an offender’s return to incarceration within three years of their date of release from a state correctional institution. An offender is included in this study when he is released via one of the following avenues — Community Transition Program, probation, parole or discharge.

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