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Data show increase in ex-offenders returning to Iowa prisons

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New data show there’s an increase in the number of former Iowa inmates returning to prison, and corrections officials are still figuring out why.

The Iowa Department of Corrections measures recidivism as the percent of offenders released from prison or work release who return to corrections within three years. For the budget year that ended in June, just over 1,600 offenders were in that category for a rate of 34.2 percent. That’s up from 31.9 percent the previous year, when just over 1,500 inmates returned.

Lettie Prell, research director for the department, says her office is reviewing the possible causes and plans to release a report this fall.

Department officials have tracked the recidivism rate for decades. They say a low rate helps inmates and keeps the public safe.