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Washington State

Institute for
Public Policy
110 Fifth Avenue Southeast, Suite 214  PO Box 40999  Olympia, WA 98504-0999  (360) 586-2677  www.wsipp.wa.gov

October 2008

RECIDIVISM TRENDS FOR OFFENDERS IN WASHINGTON STATE


Background Washington State conviction.iii This includes
convictions in juvenile and adult court. In this
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy report, we use a 36-months follow-up period plus 12
(Institute) was created by the Legislature in 1983 to months for adjudication. The recidivating offense
carry out practical, non-partisan research—at type is the most serious offense in the 3-year follow-
legislative direction—on issues of importance to up. This report contains recidivism trends for
Washington State. various offender populations in Washington State.

In order to conduct criminal justice research, the Cohorts are defined by the year in which the
Institute developed a database for measuring offender became at-risk in the community. Included
criminal recidivism. The database is a synthesis of in this analysis are DOC offenders who released
criminal charge information for individuals using from prison; DOC offenders who were sentenced to
data from the Administrative Office of the Courts community supervision; youth who released from
and the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) confinement at the Juvenile Rehabilitation
databases.i Administration (JRA); youth who were sentenced to
probation; and youth sentenced to juvenile
In 1997, the Legislature directed the Institute to diversion.
propose a universally accepted measuring tool for
making informed public safety policy decisions in Exhibit 1 displays 3-year felony recidivism rates for
adult and juvenile corrections.ii A common definition the various offender populations in Washington,
of recidivism is intended as an objective, outcome- while Exhibit 2 displays 3-year recidivism rates for
based standard for measuring program success. each group of offenders. These rates are shown by
the most serious offense in the follow-up period.
Definitions

Recidivism is defined as any offense committed


after release to the community that results in a
Exhibit 1
3-Year Felony Recidivism Rates by Group of Offenders

100%
DOC Prison
90% DOC Community Supervision
80%
JRA
Juvenile Court
Percentage Re-convicted

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

Cohort Year
WSIPP 2008
Exhibit 2
3-Year Recidivism Rates by Most Serious Offense

Felony
Total No New Mis- Felony Felony Felony Violent Total
Cohort Persons Offense demeanor Drug Property Sex Non-Sex Recidivists
DOC Releases from Prison
1990 3,196 54% 9% 11% 16% 2% 8% 46%
1991 3,211 54% 10% 11% 16% 2% 7% 46%
1992 3,857 50% 13% 11% 16% 1% 8% 50%
1993 4,222 52% 11% 11% 15% 1% 10% 48%
1994 4,504 52% 11% 12% 15% 1% 9% 48%
1995 4,558 52% 12% 11% 14% 1% 9% 48%
1996 4,753 51% 11% 12% 16% 1% 10% 49%
1997 5,188 52% 11% 13% 15% 1% 9% 48%
1998 5,356 51% 10% 12% 15% 1% 10% 49%
1999 5,657 48% 11% 13% 17% 0% 10% 52%
2000 6,070 47% 11% 13% 17% 1% 11% 53%
2001 6,468 47% 11% 14% 17% 1% 11% 53%
2002 6,830 46% 11% 13% 18% 1% 11% 54%
2003 7,547 47% 11% 13% 18% 1% 11% 53%
Offenders Sentenced to DOC Community Supervision
1990 13,943 62% 10% 8% 13% 1% 5% 38%
1991 14,346 60% 13% 8% 14% 1% 5% 40%
1992 16,096 59% 14% 8% 12% 1% 6% 41%
1993 16,499 57% 16% 9% 12% 1% 6% 43%
1994 16,447 55% 15% 9% 12% 1% 7% 45%
1995 18,260 53% 16% 10% 13% 1% 7% 47%
1996 18,146 54% 15% 10% 13% 1% 8% 46%
1997 18,999 55% 14% 10% 12% 1% 8% 45%
1998 20,036 55% 14% 10% 12% 0% 8% 45%
1999 19,550 54% 14% 10% 13% 1% 8% 46%
2000 20,531 53% 15% 11% 13% 0% 8% 47%
2001 21,500 53% 15% 10% 14% 0% 9% 47%
2002 22,366 53% 15% 10% 14% 0% 8% 47%
2003 19,867 54% 14% 9% 13% 0% 9% 46%
Youth Who Release from a JRA Facility
1990 1,005 41% 14% 5% 26% 2% 11% 59%
1991 1,006 45% 13% 4% 23% 1% 12% 55%
1992 1,146 41% 13% 4% 25% 2% 16% 59%
1993 1,257 39% 16% 4% 22% 2% 18% 61%
1994 1,292 32% 15% 6% 21% 2% 24% 68%
1995 1,525 29% 17% 4% 22% 2% 26% 71%
1996 1,682 29% 18% 4% 24% 2% 23% 71%
1997 1,764 29% 19% 4% 23% 2% 24% 71%
1998 1,911 30% 18% 6% 23% 2% 21% 70%
1999 1,109 35% 15% 6% 24% 2% 19% 65%
2000 1,263 33% 17% 5% 21% 2% 21% 67%
2001 1,223 31% 17% 6% 23% 2% 21% 69%
2002 1,400 28% 15% 7% 24% 2% 24% 72%
2003 1,130 30% 19% 5% 23% 2% 22% 70%
Youth Adjudicated in the Juvenile Court
1990 12,337 67% 17% 1% 11% 1% 3% 33%
1991 14,371 67% 18% 1% 10% 1% 3% 33%
1992 15,499 67% 18% 1% 10% 1% 4% 33%
1993 15,073 66% 18% 1% 10% 1% 5% 34%
1994 15,335 63% 19% 1% 10% 1% 5% 37%
1995 15,948 64% 20% 1% 10% 1% 4% 36%
1996 15,768 65% 20% 1% 9% 0% 4% 35%
1997 14,116 66% 19% 2% 8% 0% 4% 34%
1998 14,116 66% 19% 2% 8% 0% 4% 34%
1999 13,051 68% 18% 2% 8% 0% 3% 32%
2000 12,974 68% 19% 2% 7% 0% 3% 32%
2001 11,929 68% 19% 2% 7% 0% 3% 32%
2002 11,706 67% 19% 2% 7% 0% 4% 33%
2003 12,067 69% 19% 2% 6% 0% 3% 31%

i
The Institute conducts a matching process using the court case number and the primary identification number from the data systems to link
criminal history records. While every effort is made to accurately identify persons across data sources, 100 percent accuracy is not possible.
However, the Institute’s criminal history database provides a reasonably accurate source of criminal charge data for aggregate reporting and analysis.
ii
RCW 13.40.500–540
iii
R. Barnoski. (1997). Standards for Improving Research Effectiveness in Adult and Juvenile Justice. Olympia: Washington State Institute for
Public Policy, Document No. 97-12-1201, pg. 2.