Controversial Early Release Program for Inmates Lowering Recidivism in Connecticut

Mar 27, 2015

In 2011, the state adopted a Risk Reduction Earned Credit, or RREC program, where certain prisoners can have their sentences reduced by participating in prison programs, and for good behavior. RREC has been controversial, but new statistics show the program has been effective in reducing recidivism rates.

The Office of Policy and Management's Statistical Analysis Center took a look at the first 3,279 prisoners who were discharged with at least some RREC credit. In the first six months, 12.8 percent of the RREC offenders were back in prison, compared to 2008, before RREC, when 21.2 percent of offenders returned to prison within six months.

Three years after discharge, 49 percent of RREC offenders returned to prison, compared to 57 percent of non-RREC offenders. But for RREC offenders who were discharged into community supervision, like parole or probation officers, their recidivism rate was only 41 percent.

Mike Lawlor, OPM's Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, said that despite legislative attempts to eliminate RREC altogether, the latest figures prove RREC is working.

"The goal was: if you do this, you will see crime go down. You will see recidivism go down," Lawlor said. "Since we've implemented it, recidivism has gone down by eleven percent, and there is a lot fewer people going back to prison for any reason compared to 2008, for example."

Credit State of Connecticut

Lawlor said that since RREC was adopted in 2011, assaults on staff and inmates in Connecticut prisons "has gone way down."