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LPSO Diversion Programs reduce recidivism

Monday, August 24, 2015

  The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) has released the findings of an internal study conducted to examine the effectiveness of its multiple diversion programs. LPSO Diversion Programs address the root causes of criminal behavior in order to reduce an offender’s chance of returning to jail. The study looked at a total of 1,862 offenders who completed a diversion program between January 2011 and December 2013.
The in-depth study found that only two in ten, or 21% of all LPSO Diversion Program participants’ were re-convicted of a crime (recidivism) after program completion. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates the average U.S. national recidivism rate is 67.8% for all released offenders. In Louisiana, the overall recidivism rate is 42.7%. The LPSO study used the Louisiana Department of Corrections definition and criteria for recidivism in its measurement.
Diversion programs participants are carefully screened to be eligibility criteria before participants. Participants are matched with programs designed to meet their needs. The main programs are:
·      Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP) Day Reporting qualified participants are mostly recently arrested offenders, both sentenced and un-sentenced who qualify based on validated risk/need assessments. The participants report daily to a corrections campus and participate in a variety of classes and counseling if needed. Depending on the charge or the courts orders, other ASP participants may be required to wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet.  
·      REHAB Program This program provides offenders with skills to remain abstinent from alcohol and drugs, handle stress, gain and maintain employment. 
·      Reentry Program qualified participants are soon to be released offenders. They attend classes and participate in other services that prepare them to return to the community, work and family.
·      Transitional Work Program (TWP) qualified participants in this program are also soon to be released. They are either actively seeking employment in the private sector or have a full-time public sector job. Participants pay their own way and help support their families through those earnings.
While the overall recidivism rate (the percent of offenders who are convicted of another crime) was 21%, recidivism rates for specific diversion programs varied from 14% to 29%. The lowest recidivism rate was for offenders participating in the GPS Monitoring Program with only 14% having been convicted of committing another crime after program completion. This was followed by the Day Reporting Program with 16 percent. Together, both programs which make up the Alternative Sentencing Program had an average recidivism rate of 14%. Successful completers of the Rehab program had a 19% recidivism rate and successful completers of the Reentry program had a 25% recidivism rate. The highest recidivism rate measured was among Transitional Work Program participants at 29%.
 This range is likely due to the eligibility requirements of the different programs. All of these percentages are significantly less than state and national rates of recidivism. That means that LPSO diversion programs are linked to significant reduction in criminal activity
Equally important is the cost-efficiencies of qualified offenders enrolled in these programs. On average, the cost per offender in a Diversion Program is half of the cost of having them sit in our local jail. The average daily cost for someone incarcerated in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center (LPCC) is $54, while the average cost per day for in a Diversion Program is $22.  Offender participation in the Transitional Work Program is actually revenue positive, since offenders in the program pay for their room, board and transportation to and from work with their public sector earnings.
  “What most people don’t realize is that 95% of everyone incarcerated today will be released back into their community eventually, evidenced-based diversion programs like the ones we have are a huge positive benefit to all of us,” says Director of Corrections Rob Reardon. Not only do these programs reduce the cost of safe offender supervision, but as the study shows, significantly reduces the number of offenders who commit new crimes.




Julio Naudin