The Recidivism Challenge

Recidivism: A Big Word – A Big Problem for society and can be defined as: Ex-offenders returning to jail or prison.locked


Recidivism percentage is measured in different ways by different agencies. Some measure re-arrests; some measure re-incarcerations; others by new crimes committed. The Feds report a nationwide rate of 67%. NC reports 50-56%, depending on whom you ask. Whomever you talk to, it is recognized that recidivism is a BIG problem for society.  Because so many ex-offenders commit another crime, our communities are becoming unsafe. We must find a way to make our communities safer!

  • For the first time in US history, 1 in 100 adults in America are incarcerated. We incarcerate more people per capita population than any other country in the world.
  • In the US today, it is reported that 1 in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 are behind bars. For Black males in that age group the figure is 1 in 9.
  • Every year another group of ex-offenders -- approximately the size of Charlotte, NC (750,000) -- is released across the US.
  • Over the years, millions of ex-offenders are now living all around us -- in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools.
  • Just locking people up and throwing away the key won’t give us a safer community. Solving the recidivism problem will!

Recidivism: A Big Word, A Big Problem - PPT slides in PDF format

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  • The national recidivism rate is 67%;
  • The NC recidivism rate is 58%;
  • Over 27,000 inmates are being released each year from NC prisons;
  • Over 10,500 ex-offenders are supervised in the Charlotte Metro Area;
  • Jails/Prisons are overcrowded, leading to higher taxpayer cost;
  • Prison beds now cost over $80,00 per bed in construction cost;
  • Incarceration costs are $24,000-$28,000 or more annually per prisoner;
  • 80% of inmates have documented substance problems;
  • 80% of all crimes are committed by ex-offenders;
  • 80% of ex-offenders are released without probation and parole supervision, it is up to the community;
  • Ex-offenders have multiple problems that need multiple solutions;
  • When ex-offender problems are not addressed, they remain unchanged;
  • When ex-offenders are unchanged, the Recidivism Cycle continues;

What are the components of the recidivism cycle and how does it affect the ex-offender and his family?

Meet Joe Ex-offender and his wife Susan and find out just why it can be so hard to break the Recidivism cycle (a composite case study).

Clearly, criminals make bad decisions. When locked up they make very few decisions and, immediately upon release, are faced with hundreds of decisions a day.  Upon release,

they have to deal with stressful like:

  • Where they are going to stay
  • Basic needs like food and clothes
  • Lack of transportation and no driveršs license
  • Getting IDs
  • Jobs and job readiness
  • Career direction
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Medical and dental issues
  • Pending legal issues
  • Social agency issues to resolve
  • Child care payments
  • Substance abuse problems (80%)
  • Managing finances
  • Resolving debts and taxes
  • Family issues
  • Lack of positive peer relationships or helpful people or mentors to turn to for direction
  • Unresolved wrong thinking and character issues
  • The need for a healthy spiritual life, etc.

Read more about a proven Recidivism Solution that can result in safer communities.


In a training workshop Executive Director Al Lewis plays the part of “Joe Ex-offender” tied up with many challenges upon release, while people in the community try to help.