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UPDATE: Technology to aim at reducing recidivism

As many as two-thirds of convicts freed in California return to crime

Posted: November 20, 2013 1:20 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2013 4:55 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — California’s attorney general launched a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at reducing one of the nation’s highest rates of recidivism among people convicted of crimes.

Flanked by top law enforcement officials from around the state, Kamala Harris said a new division of her department will seek funding for programs that will target those most likely to commit more crimes after being released from jails and prisons.

The division also will have a database to identify risk factors and trends to help law enforcement better address the issue.

Harris said as many as two-thirds of those who are freed in California commit another crime within three years.

The announcement came as the state copes with a law that sends some low-level offenders to county jails instead of prisons to reduce crowding.

“If we were talking about a business that had a failure rate of that number, we would reorganize, we would re-examine and we would guide our approach by a well-proven method which asks us to think about what is our return on our investments,” Harris said. “That’s how we our approaching our work going forward.”

Law enforcement officials have been stymied for decades in trying to get criminals to stay out of trouble. Despite efforts in various counties, the recidivism rate has remained high, and authorities believe the initiative will provide a clearinghouse to combine resources for police departments and district attorney offices.

“We have a huge state with 58 counties with 58 different ways of doing things,” said Dean Flippo, president of the California District Attorneys Association, who added there may be 58 definitions of recidivism.

“How do we measure if every one of us are measuring under something different?” he asked.

Harris said the new division is currently getting set up and will be up and running soon.

Copyright 2013 by the Associated Press



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