PHILADELPHIA – Efforts by the City and the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition to reduce recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals reached an important milestone today with the release of the report, “Calculating a Unified Recidivism Rate for Philadelphia.”

The report, authored by the Reentry Coalition and the Office of Criminal Justice (OCJ), was accompanied by the release of an open data set regarding people released from incarceration to Philadelphia in 2015, as well as an interactive visualization of the data for 2015.

“Tracking recidivism has been difficult because individual agencies generally only track people who are leaving or returning to their own system,” said Sharon Rosenberg, Executive Director of Program Evaluation for Workforce Development for JEVS Human Services, who co-chairs the subcommittee which put together the report. “In this report, the Reentry Coalition identifies, for the first time, a unified recidivism metric that reflects Philadelphians returning from incarceration in both county and state custody.”

“Calculating a Unified Recidivism Rate for Philadelphia” analyzes  one year re-arrest rates for people released to Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons or the PA Department of Corrections, in addition to basic demographic information about who is being released.

“While no single measure of recidivism will tell the whole story, this metric will allow us to track recidivism more comprehensively,” said Julie Wertheimer, the City’s Chief of Staff for Criminal Justice. “In doing so, we can better track the success of the efforts of the City and its partners to improve the varied support systems and networks for returning citizens in Philadelphia.”

Arriving at this definition allowed OCJ and Reentry Coalition partners to estimate that 33.9% of people released to Philadelphia are re-arrested in Pennsylvania within a year.  According to the report, lowering the recidivism rate from 33.9% to 25.4% would equate to 2,000 fewer people re-arrested within a year of release from state prison or county jail.

“My administration remains committed to the Reentry Coalition’s goal of reducing recidivism by deepening collaboration and strengthening partnerships,” said Mayor Kenney. “This report and the new metric, along with the data set and the visualization, will now become tools in moving us closer to that goal, by allowing efforts to be data-informed and data-driven.”

The open data set that accompanies the report shows how many returning citizens in 2015 were released to Philadelphia from county jail by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) or state prison by the Department of Corrections (PA DOC) in 2015, along with their age, race, and zip code of reported address.

“We commend the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition for developing this first-of-its-kind recidivism analysis for the city,” said Department of Corrections’ Research Director Bret Bucklen, whose office provided support and data for the report. “With one out of every five releases from DOC custody returning to Philadelphia, the department benefits significantly by better understanding recidivism in Philadelphia and how to reduce it.”

For the 2015 data set, some of the key findings show that:

  • Roughly 80% of people are released from local jail, 18% from state prison, and 2% from federal prison.
  • Among the 98% released from either state or local incarceration, Black and Hispanic people were overrepresented, and Whites and Asians underrepresented, in comparison to the City’s total population.
  • Only 15% of those released were female.
  • A majority were under 40 years old. And most often, people returned to the zip codes 19134, 19124, 19140, 19132, 19143, and 19133.

The data set and visualization were created in conjunction with the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation. For information about City data sets and others, go to Visit this resources page for video tutorials and links to tools to help analyze data. Follow @PHLInnovation on Twitter to get alerts on future data releases, share how you plan to use open data with, and join us on the public open data google forum.

The Philadelphia Reentry Coalition brings agencies and organizations working on reentry in Philadelphia together to collectively reduce recidivism. Its shared plan, Home for Good, focuses on increasing communication, facilitating collaboration, and building capacity among these stakeholder groups. The Coalition’s 103 members include local, state, and federal government agencies, community-based service providers, researchers, advocates, returning citizens, faith-based groups, and others who partner as Coalition members.