Michigan recidivism rate falls to its lowest level in state history

Lansing, Mich. – The recidivism rate in Michigan dropped to its lowest rate in state history, placing it among

the best in the country.

Michigan’s recidivism rate, which measures the percentage of offenders who return to prison within three

years of release, has dropped to 26.7 percent.

Offenders can be returned to prison for committing new crimes, or for violating the conditions of their

parole. The current figures represent individuals who were released from prison in 2016.

“I am grateful for the hard work of the Michigan Department of Corrections professionals and leadership of

Director Heidi Washington, which has brought Michigan to this important milestone,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin

Gilchrist II. “Incarceration affects more than just the person going to prison—it impacts whole families and

entire communities. That is why it is important for us to focus on smart reforms, like those made at the

MDOC, so fewer people return to prison or find themselves there in the first place. Michigan is already a

leader in the field, and we will continue to work hard to make sure the system works for more people.”

Last year, the department’s recidivism stood at 29.1 percent – which had been the second lowest level since

the state began recording the three-year rates. The state’s lowest recidivism rate previously came in 2018

when 28.1 percent of offenders were returned to prison following their release.

Recidivism in Michigan has hovered around 30 percent in recent years and it reflects a sharp drop from 1998

when the rate was 45.7 percent.

Michigan’s new rate places it among the top 10 in the country. Last month, the Virginia Department of

Corrections announced the lowest rate in the country at 23.1 percent.

“We are committed to making our communities safer places to live by providing returning citizens with the

education and skills they need to be successful,” said Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington.

“We’re proud of our hard work and efforts that have driven down recidivism rates to an historic, all-time

low. Michigan is a national leader in criminal justice reform and we remain focused on improving long-term 

public safety by preparing those who leave prison to stay home to support themselves and their families as

law-abiding citizens.”

The department’s “Offender Success” model aims to provide prisoners with education, skills and job training

in high-demand fields that can lead to stable careers and lower the risk of re-offense.

Training programs include the first-of-its-kind in the country, Vocational Village, which operates at Richard

A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia and Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson. The program provides

training in automotive technology, welding, CNC machining, robotics, computer coding, commercial truck

driving, forklift operation, carpentry, plumbing, electrical trades and concrete and masonry work.

The MDOC is already a leader in the country in providing educational opportunities to prisoners and has

over 700 prisoners participating in post-secondary education that will lead to a high-quality certificate or

degree. The MDOC also has more than 15 different career and technical education pathways spread across

more than 40 programs at 18 facilities providing prisoners with the opportunity to achieve a state or

nationally recognized credential in their trade.

In addition, the department has introduced new, evidence-based methods of supervision that have shown

positive results in helping offenders on parole or probation continue down a more successful path. Some of

those methods include agent-directed case management, Motivational Interviewing and the use of Carey

Guides, which help agents focus on offender needs and reinforce positive behavior.

“I’m grateful for the dedicated staff across the department whose incredible efforts have led to the state’s

lowest-recorded recidivism rate,” Washington said.