Criminal History and Recidivism of Federal Offenders

Report Summary

2016 Recidivism Study OverviewThe Past Predicts the Future: Criminal History and Recidivism of Federal Offenders examines a group of 25,431 federal offenders who were released from prison or placed on probation in calendar year 2005. Information about the components of Chapter Four of the Guidelines Manual—including total criminal history score, criminal history category, and point assignments for types of past convictions—and their association with recidivism are contained in this report. The findings included in this report build on those in the Commission’s 2016 Recidivism Overview report. (Published March 9, 2017)

 

 

Report Highlights

  • Consistent with its previous work in this area, the Commission found that recidivism rates are closely correlated with total criminal history points and resulting Criminal History Category classification, as offenders with lower criminal history scores have lower recidivism rates than offenders with higher criminal history scores.

  • The Commission found substantial differences in recidivism rates among Criminal History Category I offenders (which includes offenders with a criminal history score of zero or one point). Less than one-third (30.2%) of Criminal History Category I offenders with zero points were rearrested while nearly half (46.9%) of offenders with one point were rearrested.

  • The Commission also found differences in recidivism rates among offenders with zero criminal history points. Offenders with zero points and no prior contact with the criminal justice system have a lower recidivism rate (25.7%) than offenders with zero points but some prior contact with the criminal justice system (37.4%).

  • Offenders who have less serious prior convictions (assigned one point) have a lower recidivism rate (53.4%) than offenders who have prior convictions assigned two or three points (71.3% for offenders with at least one two-point offense and 70.5% for offenders with at least one three-point offense).

 

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