RICHMOND — More felons are making good on their second chances in Virginia than just about any other state in the nation, according to an analysis by the Virginia Department of Corrections that compares recidivism rates.
The analysis shows that among the 45 states that report three-year reincarceration rates, Virginia’s rate was the lowest, at 23.4 percent in the three-year period ending in 2015. Specifically, of the 11,496 felons under supervision in the state system in 2012 who had the opportunity to recidivate — known as “State Responsible” offenders — VDOC said 2,687 were reincarcerated within three years.
The next closest state was Oklahoma with a 24 percent rate, followed by South Carolina, at 24.9 percent. Delaware finished last in the analysis with a recidivism rate of 69.7 percent, although its figures included local and state offenders.
VDOC officials said roughly nine out of every 10 state inmates incarcerated in Virginia likely will be released one day.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe hailed the results at a news conference Tuesday in Richmond attended by Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke.
“Since the beginning of my administration, we have aggressively pursued policies and initiatives that rehabilitate incarcerated individuals, so they can develop the tools and skills to be successful,” McAuliffe said.
“This announcement is a strong indication that our correctional system reforms are helping ex-offenders become successful citizens once they leave prison,” the governor said.
“Lower recidivism rates mean fewer crimes, fewer victims and a safer commonwealth.”
Not all trends seen in the analysis were positive.
Using data from an earlier three-year period, the analysis shows that recidivism of Department of Corrections facility offenders known to have a “mental impairment” grew from 48.4 percent in 2009 to 55.6 percent in 2012.
By comparison, the same classification of offenders with no known mental impairment experienced a drop during the same period from 21.1 percent to 19.2 percent.