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City and Reentry Coalition Release Report and Open Data Set

By Mike Dunn

March 12, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – Efforts by the City and the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition to reduce recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals reached an important milestone today with the release of the report, “Calculating a Unified Recidivism Rate for Philadelphia.”

The report, authored by the Reentry Coalition and the Office of Criminal Justice (OCJ), was accompanied by the release of an open data set regarding people released from incarceration to Philadelphia in 2015, as well as aninteractive visualization of the data for 2015.

“Tracking recidivism has been difficult because individual agencies generally only track people who are leaving or returning to their own system,” said Sharon Rosenberg, Executive Director of Program Evaluation for Workforce Development for JEVS Human Services, who co-chairs the subcommittee which put together the report. “In this report, the Reentry Coalition identifies, for the first time, a unified recidivism metric that reflects Philadelphians returning from incarceration in both county and state custody.”

“Calculating a Unified Recidivism Rate for Philadelphia” analyzes one year re-arrest rates for people released to Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons or the PA Department of Corrections, in addition to basic demographic information about who is being released.

“While no single measure of recidivism will tell the whole story, this metric will allow us to track recidivism more comprehensively,” said Julie Wertheimer, the City’s Chief of Staff for Criminal Justice. “In doing so, we can better track the success of the efforts of the City and its partners to improve the varied support systems and networks for returning citizens in Philadelphia.”

Arriving at this definition allowed OCJ and Reentry Coalition partners to estimate that 33.9% of people released to Philadelphia are re-arrested in Pennsylvania within a year. According to the report, lowering the recidivism rate from 33.9% to 25.4% would equate to 2,000 fewer people re-arrested within a year of release from state prison or county jail.

“My administration remains committed to the Reentry Coalition’s goal of reducing recidivism by deepening collaboration and strengthening partnerships,” said Mayor Kenney. “This report and the new metric, along with the data set and the visualization, will now become tools in moving us closer to that goal, by allowing efforts to be data-informed and data-driven.”

The open data set that accompanies the report shows how many returning citizens in 2015 were released to Philadelphia from county jail by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) or state prison by the Department of Corrections (PA DOC) in 2015, along with their age, race, and zip code of reported address.

“We commend the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition for developing this first-of-its-kind recidivism analysis for the city,” said Department of Corrections’ Research Director Bret Bucklen, whose office provided support and data for the report. “With one out of every five releases from DOC custody returning to Philadelphia, the department benefits significantly by better understanding recidivism in Philadelphia and how to reduce it.”

Read full report here.

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