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5 Ways to Reduce Recidivism and Lower Incarceration Rates

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

What is recidivism? We know that this can be hard to understand, and sometimes even harder to pronounce, so we broke the term down for you here. Another term used to describe recidivism is relapse. The occurrence of a disease after intended improvement. A person’s tendency to relapse into a particular previous behavior or condition, especially criminal behavior. When we talk about recidivism in reference to jail or prison, it simply means: being released and returning back to incarceration.

Yup, it's as simple as that. The process of previously convicted people who reoffend and reenter the prison system is referred to as recidivism. Data says that more than 50% of formerly incarcerated people that are released in the US are rearrested again. According to the Bureau of Prisons, it costs between $20,000 to $40,000 per year to house their incarcerated residents in federal correctional facilities, and state facilities can cost even more.

Harvard Politics found that 76.6% of prisoners are rearrested within five years. The US has one of the highest reoffender rates and something clearly has to change. Incarceration hurts the entire community and our Flikshop team wants to continue to find ways to help drive this recidivism rate down. There are some actionable steps that can help in reducing these numbers. Some programs highlight the importance of changing the model so prisons are more rehabilitative instead of driven by punishment. Other facilities are being thoughtful about introducing innovations around their technology and collaborating with other returning citizens...the real professionals in recidivism reduction.

More than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons each year. Research also shows that another 9-million people cycle through local jails (ASPE, HHS). When effective reentry fails, they are costly; the extended costs hurt more than our pockets too. The failure leads to more crime, more victims, higher healthcare costs, community instability, higher taxes, and a host of factors.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Reoffending:

  • Improve motivational factors: Build in mentoring programs, community, and promoting motivation to help with motivational goals and new life visions.

  • Assessment of risks and needs: Understand and determine the ‘triggers’ of the individual. Is it environment, peers, mental health issues? Evaluate and come up with a solution or assessment plan to help.

  • Education is a key tool to integrate into incarceration: Previous research programs from the Bureau of Justice revealed that each dollar spent on education for their residents saved up to five dollars on those potential reoffenders. Programs like the Flikshop School of Business have proven to reduce recidivism by drastic numbers.

  • Improve substance abuse programs: Treatment programs have proven effective, whether intensive drug treatment or intervention programs can help with accountability and effective management and behavior changes.

  • Family connectivity: Flikshop wants every person in every cell to stay connected to their incarcerated loved ones, as data supports that family engagement during and after incarceration is the leading cause of success reentry. Click here to send your first Flikshop postcard to your incarcerated loved one for free.


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