SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's recidivism rate dropped in the years before Gov. Jerry Brown's realignment law took effect, even though six of every 10 offenders returned to prison, the corrections department said in a report released Wednesday.
The report said 61 percent of felons released between July 2008 and June 2009 committed new crimes within three years.
High as that might be, it was down from 67 percent for inmates released in 2005 and 2006, when California had one of the nation's highest recidivism rates.
Corrections officials could not say how the latest rate compares with other states, but Corrections Secretary Jeff Beard called the decline encouraging.
Under realignment, which took effect in October 2011, the state began keeping lower-level offenders in county jails instead of sending them to state prisons. The move came in response to a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding.
Researchers said that change did not significantly affect the new report because it tracked offenders released before realignment. Beard said in a statement that he is confident rates will continue to decline as the state and counties spend more money on rehabilitation programs.
The report tracked new arrests, convictions and returns to prison for nearly 113,000 parolees, with the recidivism rate based on how many offenders are given new prison terms for parole violations or new sentences. Nearly 69,000 ex-convicts were given more prison time.