How does Arbitrarily Reducing Prison Sentences make Citizens Safer?

There is a recent article “The Public Safety Impact of Shortening Lengthy Prison Terms” (PDF here) in The Crime Report (paywall) that summarizes the study’s results for reducing lengthy prison sentences (10 year plus) by a few years. The Council on Criminal Justice released a report The Impact of Long Sentences on Public Safety: A Complex Relationship reporting the findings.

A 10 year sentence is for significant criminality. The problem is that the estimate of the impact from releasing the prisoners before the sentence end date is estimated too low. There are two studies “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 34 States in 2012: A 5-Year Follow-Up Period (2012ā€“2017)” and “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 24 States in 2008: A 10-Year Follow-Up Period (2008ā€“2018)” estimate recidivism for arrest 3 years after release at 61.5% & 66.2 % respectively. Calculating 1127 prisoners released. Let’s use 60% recidivism there would be 676 post-released prisoners who would commit a new crime in 3 years since their release. The 676 prisoners are estimated to commit 162 violent crimes (including murder) & 224 non-violent crimes. With these different estimates is releasing prisoners early worth additional criminal costs. There are additional crimes for each subsequent year culminating in a 70.5% arrest recidivism (34 State Study) and a 81.9% arrest recidivism (24 State Study) following release. These percentages are significant.

Unfortunately prisoners released early from prison appears only to result in placing society at early risk of more crime.

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