Study Says Many Inmates Are Repeat Offenders

By: Lisa Ferrari Email
By: Lisa Ferrari Email

December 14, 2007

A Virginia study shows a large number of inmates released from prison end up back behind bars.

This upward trend means the price of operating prisons is going up and we'll have to build new prisons to house all the inmates. Or, the other solution would be to find a way to keep fewer released offenders from returning.

A statewide study says 42 percent of Virginia inmates return to prison after their release.

“That is one of the problems of the criminal justice system; that we do see a lot of the people returning back to the system,” said Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail Superintendent Col. Ronald Matthews.

And, even in Albemarle and Charlottesville, where the jail estimates its recidivism rate is lower than most, which are at 24%, the overcrowding and cost of returning inmates is still a problem.

“If we don't change anything that we are doing within two years we are going to be looking at building another facility or expanding this facility,” said Matthews.

Matthews says right now, the regional jail is at 135% over capacity.

“Individuals are down on their luck and they have to make a decision whether they starve to death or commit a crime,” said Matthews.

The local jail says they have many programs in place to try and keep offenders from returning. They just joined forces with the University of Virginia to study what other jails are doing and how they can implement their best practices in this area.

The Virginia Department of Corrections says their budget is the highest ever, topping $1 billion for the first time.

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