(Published November 30, 2021) This report is the second in a series continuing the Commission’s research of the recidivism of federal offenders. It provides an overview of the recidivism of federal firearms offenders released from incarceration or sentenced to a term of probation in 2010, combining data regularly collected by the Commission with data compiled from criminal history records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This report provides an overview of recidivism for these offenders and information on key offender and offense characteristics related to recidivism. This report also compares recidivism outcomes for federal firearms offenders released in 2010 to firearms offenders released in 2005. In the future, the Commission will release additional publications discussing specific topics concerning recidivism of federal offenders.
The final study group of 5,659 firearms offenders satisfied the following criteria:
- United States citizens
- Re-entered the community during 2010 after discharging their sentence of incarceration or by commencing a term of probation in 2010
- Not reported dead, escaped, or detained
- Have valid FBI numbers that could be located in criminal history repositories (in at least one state, the District of Columbia, or federal records)
- Sentenced under §2K2.1, sentenced as armed career criminals or career offenders, or convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)
- This study observed substantial consistency in the recidivism of firearms offenders across the two time periods, 2005 and 2010, despite two intervening major developments in the federal criminal justice system: the Supreme Court’s decision in Booker and increased use of evidence-based practices in federal supervision.
- Firearms offenders recidivated at a higher rate than all other offenders. Over two-thirds (69.0%) of firearms offenders were rearrested for a new crime during the eight-year follow-up period compared to less than half of all other offenders (45.1%).
- Firearms offenders and all other offenders who recidivated were rearrested for similar crimes. Of the firearms offenders who recidivated, assault was the most serious new charge for 25.9 percent of offenders followed by drug trafficking (11.0%). Similarly, of the all other offenders who recidivated, assault was the most common new charge (19.0%) followed by drug trafficking (11.4%).
Firearms offenders have higher recidivism rates than all other offenders in every Criminal History Category (CHC). Within most CHCs, this difference was about ten percentage points.
- In CHC I, 39.7 percent of firearms offenders recidivated compared to 29.6 percent of all other offenders.
- In CHC VI, 82.8 percent of firearms offenders recidivated compared to 72.9 percent of all other offenders.
- Firearms offenders recidivated at a higher rate than all other offenders in every age-at-release grouping. Firearms offenders recidivated at over twice the rate of all other offenders among those released after age 59 (31.1% compared to 14.5%).
- The recidivism rates for firearms and all other offenders were highly similar for both the 2010 release cohort in this report and the 2005 release cohort previously studied. In the 2005 release cohort, 68.1 percent of firearms offenders recidivated compared to 46.3 percent of all other offenders. Similarly, 69.0 percent of firearms offenders in the 2010 release cohort recidivated compared to 45.1 percent of all other offenders.