Md. Officials See Progress, Say Recidivism Rate Is Down
09/30/2013
WJZ-TV - Online

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland's recidivism rate is down. That means a larger number of people released after serving their sentences are not coming back to the prison system.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains officials see progress there.

They're giving credit for the decrease to a partnership approach to inmate rehabilitation.

Andre Vince and every other student in the classroom is in detention; he's learning a trade that may serve him better once he's served his time.

“This is my first time. I've been here for a while but this is my first time and hopefully my only time,” Vince said.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services numbers show odds have increased his favor, having reduced recidivism—the rate at which ex-inmates return to prison for new crimes.

“And we have done so with the believe that we should return offenders back to the communities equipped to be productive members of society,” said DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard.

Joanne Jester is an example of that success.

“It's a very hard thing to go into jail feeling that the world has come to an end but when you have people who really do care, you have to take it and you have to roll with it,” Jester said.

In 2007, DPSCS and other agencies combined to provide re-entry programs. Since 2007, the recidivism rate has dropped from nearly half the number of inmates released to 40.5%.

Dominic Walker is among those released who hasn't come back.

“I have a lovely family now. I purchased a brand new home,” he said. “Having that opportunity and having that change of heart goes together and that's what allows us to change our lives. I'm just thankful for it.”

DPSCS says breaking the cycle of addictions is also critical to keeping ex-cons from returning to prison.