According to this opinion article from the Washington Post, the selection below reports that out of more than 11,000 people released from prison during the pandemic, only 17, seventeen! committed new crimes. They were placed on “home confinement,” which has its own problems, so while the criminal justice system should not be tracking thousands of individuals outside of their prison walls (and we want a society working to eliminate the dependence on imprisonment and confinement!), it goes to show that we don’t need as many people inside their prison walls to begin with!
“To protect those most vulnerable to covid-19 during the pandemic, the Cares Act allowed the Justice Department to order the release of people in federal prisons and place them on home confinement. More than 11,000 people were eventually released. Of those, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported that only 17 of them committed new crimes.
That’s not a typo. Seventeen. That’s a 0.15 percent recidivism rate in a country where it’s normal for 30 to 65 percent of people coming home from prison to reoffend within three years of release.
Of those 17 people, most new offenses were for possessing or selling drugs or other minor offenses. Of the 17 new crimes, only one was violent (an aggravated assault), and none were sex offenses.
This extremely low recidivism rate shows there are many, many people in prison we can safely release to the community. These 11,000 releases were not random. People in low- and minimum-security prisons or at high risk of complications from covid were prioritized for consideration for release.’