Delaware prisoners likely to reoffend, study shows

Police: Recidivism frustrates officers, victims
August 20, 2013

Criminals in Delaware, once released from prison, will likely break the law and go back to jail, new statistics show.

The Delaware Criminal Justice Council Statistical Analysis Center released Recidivism in Delaware: An Analysis of Prisoners Released in 2008 and 2009. The July 31 report looked at recidivism rates for released offenders who served a sentence of at least one year.

Of the prisoners released in 2008, about half had been recommitted or rearrested after one year. After three years, 77 percent had been arrested, more than 70 percent had been convicted and more than 67 percent – two out of three – had been committed to a secure facility.

Prisoners released in 2009 showed similar tendencies.

“We often do see the same individuals,” said Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack. “There’s clearly a sense of frustration there.”

Shavack said police labor to find suspects, press formal charges and work toward convictions, only to see the same culprit commit another crime down the road.

“Our frustration pales in comparison to the frustration of victims,” he said. “That’s definitely what motivates our troopers.”

According to the study, recidivism rates were highest among offenders who served time for property offenses, such as burglary and theft, when compared to the rates for those serving violent or public order offenses, including drug offenses.

Shavack said some crimes, such as drug possession are victimless. “With the property crimes there is a victim,” he said. “Their home has been violated.”

Shavack also said the crimes are linked. “The nexus for those property crimes are the drug crimes,” he said.

The study also showed offenders under 24 years old had higher recidivism rates than those over 45, and men were more likely to recidivate than women.

“The start is to look at the report, and identify areas where changes can be made to decrease that recidivism rate,” Shavack said.

The report, scheduled to be updated annually, is the result of Gov. Jack Markell’s Executive Order 27. The order created the Justice Reinvestment Task Force, which recommended an annual report on recidivism rates.

Since 2011, the state has been engaged in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which aims to increase public safety, reduce corrections and criminal justice spending, and invest the savings in strategies to decrease crime.

“Too many people released from our prisons go on to commit more crimes,” Markell said in a July 31 statement. “We need to change that, and this report gives us benchmarks for measuring progress as we pursue new strategies to prevent crime and reduce recidivism. The data released today can help us measure the effectiveness of programs, both in and outside of prison, targeted to helping offenders become productive members of society while improving public safety,” Markell said.

To read the full report, go to


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