August 2, 2012

The Trib Gets It Wrong. Again.

The recidivism rate among those arrested and released by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has been making the rounds of the right wing noise machine recently.

There's this from Fox News:
Roughly one in six illegal immigrants is re-arrested on criminal charges within three years of release, according to new government data being released Tuesday.

Those charges range from murder to drunken-driving and, according to House Republicans pushing out the report, are symptoms of what they describe as a "dangerous and deadly" immigration policy.
And this from NewsMax:
The Obama administration’s policy of not deporting illegal immigrants arrested for criminal activity “is not working for public safety in the United States,” Texas Rep. Ted Poe tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
And now the editorial page of the Tribune-Review:
The federal government’s policy of catching and releasing illegal aliens has had the expected unsavory consequences. A House Judiciary Committee report says the program had a recidivism rate of 16 percent between 2008 and 2011. Or, put another way, illegals who were cut loose have been charged with 19 murders, three attempted murders and 142 sex crimes. Yet another example of “enlightened progressivism,” eh? ...
Too bad none of the actual, you know, reality based numbers actually support this right wing narrative.

First off, let's look at recidivism.  From the Pew Trusts:
Recidivism is the act of reengaging in criminal offending despite having been punished. The prison recidivism rate—the subject of this report—is the proportion of persons released from prison who are rearrested, reconvicted or returned to custody within a specific time period. Typically, recidivism studies follow released offenders for three years following their release from prison or placement on probation.
And what does Pew say is the recidivism rate overall?
The Pew/ASCA survey found the threeyear return-to-prison rate for inmates released in 1999 to be 45.4 percent, and 43.3 percent for those released in 2004.
Now ask yourselves a question: Is a 16% recidivism rate greater or lesser than a 43% recidivism rate?

MediaMatters has more.

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