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Iowa Department of Corrections reduces recidivism rates

DES MOINES – Today the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) is announcing a reduction in the recidivism rate for FY2021. The three-year recidivism rate for FY2021 is 38.7% — 0.9% lower than the recidivism rate observed in FY2020.

Generally, recidivism is defined as the likelihood that an individual “relapse[s] into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention from a previous crime.”[1] Recidivism can be defined in a multitude of ways, and there is no primary standard for national or state-level reporting. The IDOC defines recidivism as an individual’s return to prison within three-years following a previous term of incarceration.

Recidivism reduction is a top priority for IDOC. While some efforts to curb recidivism are within the Department’s control, some are not. It is imperative that federal, state, and local agencies continue to work together to seek innovations that improve public safety, individual reentry, and community support services.

“I’m proud of the hard work that the Department of Corrections and their partners have done to continually reduce the recidivism rate in our state,” Governor Reynolds said. “It is critical that we continue these programs and partnerships and help these individuals begin a new path as an active, productive and valued member of our society.”

The IDOC has undertaken a series of efforts to continue to reduce recidivism and improve public safety within their Agency. The FY2021 figures speaks to IDOC’s efforts toward promoting a safer Iowa and achieving their vison of an Iowa with no more victims.

“The Iowa DOC has undertaken multiple efforts over the course of several years to reduce recidivism rates. In recent years, while we have observed increases in recidivism, that rate of increase appeared to slow as Department-wide efforts were implemented, practiced, and sustained. The recidivism reduction observed during FY21 are indications these efforts are working to achieve our Department’s unified goals to improve reentry and community safety.” -Director Beth Skinner Ph.D.

The Department reports several implementation efforts, which include but are not limited to:

Prioritizing institutional and community-based treatment for high risk individuals
Utilizing evidence-based programs
Improved and aligned reentry practices
Increased access to education and educational opportunities
Building capacity within apprenticeship programs
Training staff in core correctional practices (CCP)
Enhanced case management training

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