Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism [June 12, 2014] [open pdf - 462KB]
"The number of people incarcerated in the United States grew steadily for nearly 30 years. That number has been slowly decreasing since 2008, but as of 2012 there were still over 2 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails across the country. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that since 1990 an average of 590,400 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons and almost 5 million ex-offenders are under some form of community-based supervision. Nearly all prisoners will return to their communities as some point. Offender reentry can include all the activities and programming conducted to prepare prisoners to return safely to the community and to live as law-abiding citizens. Some ex-offenders, however, eventually end up back in prison. The BJS's most recent study on recidivism showed that within five years of release nearly three-quarters of ex-offenders released in 2005 came back into contact with the criminal justice system, and more than half returned to prison after either being convicted for a new crime or for violating the conditions of their release. Compared with the average American, ex-offenders are less educated, less likely to be gainfully employed, and more likely to have a history of mental illness or substance abuse--all of which have been shown to be risk factors for recidivism."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34287