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Diversion Programs Curtail Re-arrest Rates

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Corrections Division diversion programming at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office prove successful at reducing recidivism. Results from a study analyzing four years of diversion program activity show that collectively all programs are effective at curtailing re-arrest rates.

It has become evident that the “revolving door" effect of offenders returning to incarceration time after time needs to be addressed in a more proactive manner. The Corrections Division offers three programs that allow inmates various levels of supervision in an effort to successfully reintegrate them into society. The Home Monitoring program, which requires the lowest level of offender supervision, was established in 2001. Next, the Day Reporting program, a mid-level supervision program began in 2003. Finally, the Work Release program, at the highest level of offender supervision was started in 2004. Although these diversion programs are unique from each other, they share the same concept of successfully reintegrating offenders back into society while safely reducing recidivism.

Data from the three programs, Home Monitoring, Day Reporting, and Work Release was gathered and examined from 2004-2007. A random inmate sample of similar size, age, gender, and ethnic composition was selected from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center (LPCC) population and all inmates participating in the three diversion programs over this four year period were included in the study.

The purpose of the study was to determine the percentage and length of recidivism after release from an LPSO diversion program. With the dependent variable being recidivism length, the independent variables were program type, program length, conviction type, education, race, age, and sex.

The results proved that inmates without diversion programming have a higher rate of re-incarceration and, when they do return to incarceration, they do so in about half of the time than those with diversion programming. The results also indicated that educational status played an important role in the potential effectiveness of specific diversion programs by increasing recidivism length. Although education level had no influence on length of recidivism for participants in the Day Reporting Program, inmates with no GED who participated in the Home Monitoring Program had the best success rate while those with a GED or high school diploma did not fair as well. Additionally, the Work Release Program worked best for inmates with a high school diploma. It was also determined that race, sex, and type of conviction had no relation to program effectiveness.

Of a total of 1610 observations, 424 inmates (35.4%) from division programming were re-arrested and 229 inmates (55.7%) from the LPCC without diversion programming were re-arrested. Although the LPCC remains below the national average of 67% recidivism due to their “in-house programming", those inmates with diversion programming return to incarceration 20.4% less than those without.

This study provided valuable insight into the effectiveness of diversion programming at the LPSO in relation to recidivism length and educational status. LPSO staff will use this information to better place inmates into appropriate programming and further develop program curriculum.

The practice of “linking" the programs together by transitioning offenders, when appropriate, from higher level programs to lower level programs prior to their release has also shown to increase their likelihood of breaking the cycle of the “revolving door" and is a proven rehabilitative strategy.

Leah Dishong
Project Development Manager
Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office
337-231-6365 ext 239