Senate: Recidivism rate declining
National security minister Jeff Baron said yesterday that Bermuda's recidivism rate was falling and at an “all-time low”, describing it as a measure of the success of prison rehabilitation programmes.
The government senator told the Upper Chamber that of 291 prison discharges in the fiscal year 2013-14, 10 per cent reoffended within two years of their release.
That rate compared favourably to the Caribbean, he said, where the two-year recidivism rate was 19 per cent.
Mr Baron also contrasted the latest figures with those from a study tracking Bermuda's recidivism rate between 2007 and 2010.
“That study found that 38 per cent of the male prison population for that period accounted for 62 per cent of all custodial sentences, with some of the most chronic offenders serving up to nine sentences within the three-year period,” said the senator.
Mr Baron said he was confident that programmes provided in prisons for inmates were “effective for the majority of those incarcerated”.
His statement to the Senate came just two weeks after notorious sex offender John Malcolm White was released from prison without undergoing any rehabilitation, prompting public concern that he would reoffend.
The figures shared by Mr Baron were not broken down by crime. He said the Department of Corrections calculated the recidivism rate by tracking 291 prison discharges of adult men and women and younger persons.
“Within one year after their release, 15 returned to prison,” he said. “Therefore, the one year [rate] is five per cent. Within two years after their release, 13 more offenders had reoffended. This brings the total to ten per cent.
“Within three years after their release, nine more offenders had reoffended. This brings the total to 13 per cent. The notion that recidivism rates in Bermuda are high when compared to other jurisdictions, does not stand up to the data.
“Bermuda's recidivism rates have decreased from last year. In fact, Bermuda's two-year rate — which is the international standard of measurement — is at 10 per cent.
“It cannot be disputed that there are a number of contributing factors to these all-time lows, such as emigration overseas or alternatives to incarceration. In any event, the low populations that we have been experiencing are proof of the success of our people, programmes and services.”
The Minister said prison programmes included social training, psychological interventions through group and individual sessions and education and community service opportunities.
“While some inmates are mandated to complete these programmes as part of their sentence or to become eligible for parole, there continue to be many inmates that willingly enrol and they are often the better for it.”
Opposition Senator Kim Wilkerson said it would be useful to have longer term results. “I'm not sure what there is to read in one or two-year statistics,” she said.
Her Progressive Labour Party colleague Renee Ming said she would like the Minister to provide a breakdown for men, women and younger people and Mr Baron said he should be able to obtain those statistics.
• For Mr Baron's speech in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”