Irish Penal Reform Trust

Prison Recidivism 2014 Cohort

6th August 2020

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published statistics on recidivism (reoffending) by those released from prison in 2014. The prison recidivism rate is measured as a percentage of people who were convicted of an offence that was recorded within three years from their release from prison.

While the summary below gives an overview of some of the data, you can read IPRT’s full response to the publication of the data here.

The rate of recidivism for the 2014 cohort of those released from prison was 55.2%. After a recent adjustment to the calculation method, the corresponding figure for the 2011 cohort stands at 63.8%. Although most prisoners released in 2014 were male (92.9%), which broadly reflects the sex profile of the prison population in Ireland, the re-offending rate was higher for females (58.3%) released from custody than that of males (55.0%)

There continues to be an inverse relationship between age and recidivism rates, which is largely in line with international evidence. The rate of reoffending for those aged under 21 when they were committed to prison was 79.6%, compared to 29.5% for those aged 50 or over. The rate of recidivism in 2014 decreased across all age groups as the age group increased.

In line with previous years, the recidivism rate for those originally imprisoned for less serious offences continues to be high. Persistent low-level offending of this type is often driven by underlying factors, such as homelessness, poverty, addiction, trauma and mental health issues. Prison does not and cannot solve these issues.

This year’s statistics also include a 1-year indicator. This gives a more timely indicator of prison re-offending, but should be used in conjunction with the 3-year indicator to evaluate longer-term outcomes. 40.2% of prisoners released in 2017 reoffended within one year of release, a decrease of 6 percentage points on prisoners released in 2011.

Another new feature of the CSO recidivism statistics is a breakdown of fine sentence reoffending. In 2017, one third (33%) of individuals that received a fine sentence from court reoffended within a year of their previous court outcome.

To view data on Prison Recidivism for the 2014 cohort – as well as an overview of data from 2011 to 2017 – click here.

For an infographic of the data, click here.

(Note: Statistics on recidivism by those sentenced to custody are published separately to the figures sentenced to probation. At the time of writing, statistics for the 2014 cohort of those sentenced to probation are not yet available.)

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