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50 States, 1 Goal: Examining State-Level Recidivism Trends in the Second Chance Act Era

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2024
8 pages

This report discusses the progress made in addressing recidivism after the passage of the Second Chance Act in 2008.


This report by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments, and the National Reentry Resource Center, highlights the progress made in reducing recidivism across the country over the past 15 years as a result of the passage of the Second Chance Act in 2008. This report answers three critical questions: What progress has been made? How much could states save by reducing recidivism further? Are states ready to expand their efforts? State-level reincarceration rates are 23 percent lower since 2008. Fewer returns to custody mean that more people can rejoin their families and contribute to their communities. States are achieving these rates with changes in policy and by increasing opportunities and resources to support employment and connections to behavioral health care and housing. Despite the progress made, states will spend an estimated $8 billion on reincarceration costs for people who exited prison in 2022. Scaling effective policies and reentry models can reduce the economic and human costs of recidivism, while creating meaningful opportunities for returning people to contribute to the workforce and their families and communities. In the past year, leaders in Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, and Nebraska have set bold goals for reducing recidivism and improving reentry outcomes further by 2030. The goals include increasing access to treatment, mental health services, and medical care; improving individuals’ economic independence by ensuring they are better prepared for work and have access to employment; and increasing access to stable housing. Since its passage in 2008, the Second Chance Act has invested in state and local efforts to improve outcomes for people leaving prison and jail.

Date Published: April 1, 2024