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Written by Dr. Sarah Anderson
Published on May 2, 2024
Research Highlights

The three-year recidivism rate is 35% in MO.

A fourth of prison admissions are due to technical violations under community supervision.

Reincarceration due to technical violations has decreased by about 30% since 2018.

Recidivism is when a released offender commits a new crime.

Probation is community supervision as an alternative to imprisonment. Probation eligibility depends on the person’s crime and criminal history (RSMo 559.03). Parole is the supervised release of an offender after serving part of their sentence (RSMo 588.011).

Recidivism is when a released offender breaks a rule or performs a new criminal act that results in arrest, conviction, or incarceration (NIJ). When an offender is under community supervision, they may be reincarcerated for a technical violation or a new offense violation. A technical violation occurs when someone breaks a rule of their supervision, which can span from missing an appointment with their parole officer to illegally possessing a firearm. A new offense violation occurs when the offender commits a new crime while under supervision (CSG 2024).

In MO, the Division of Probation & Parole uses the Missouri Offender Management Matrix to guide the disciplinary response when an offender breaks a term of their community supervision with reincarceration being the highest level of sanction.


Recidivism is decreasing in MO.

In MO, 95,000 people are incarcerated or under community supervision (Prison Policy 2023).

  • 37,000 on probation
  • 9,800 in local jails
  • 23,000 in state prison
  • 6,500 in federal prison
  • 18,000 on parole

In MO, the three-year recidivism rate is 35%. Of offenders released in 2020, 20% have been reincarcerated due to a violation of supervision, 9% have been reincarcerated for a new prison sentence, and 5% have a new probation sentence (Figure 1; MO DOC 2023).

In MO, there were 12,347 prison admissions in 2021 (CSG 2024). Half of the admissions were from people under community supervision. Of these admissions, half were for technical violations of supervision and the other half were from committing a new crime (Figure 2). The number of people who have been reincarcerated due to a technical violation has decreased by about 30% since 2018.

Recidivism rates for all admission types have decreased since 2018 (MO DOC 2022). This decrease is attributed to the policies put in place by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, founded in 2017, which include:

  • investment in community treatment systems.
  • implementation of evidence-based practices at the Department of Corrections.
  • change of Community Supervision Centers to behavioral intervention programs.
  • modernized parole decision-making.

Figure 1. The three-year recidivism rate in MO. The data shows what has occurred over three years after the year of release from 2014-2020 (e.g. of offenders released in 2020 about 30% had been reincarcerated by 2023). Data from MO DOC 2023.


Figure 2. Prison admissions in MO from 2018-2021 separated by the reason for admission. Figure from the Council of State Governments 2024.

Drivers of recidivism are varied.

Personal. Age, criminal history, substance use or abuse, and serious mental illness are predictive factors for recidivism likelihood (NASEM 2022). Strained relationships, financial hardship, homelessness, and victimization may create crises which increase the chances of recidivism.

Learn more about the circumstances that affect reentry success in our Science Notes Mental Health & Reincarceration and Reentry Programs.

Community. Low-income areas with high housing instability tend to see higher levels of recidivism, likely due to lack of community support and opportunities (NASEM 2022). Communities near jobs that employ more previous offenders (low wage and few education requirements such as construction or manufacturing) see lower rates of recidivism Community organizations (e.g., social service providers, educational organizations, employment resources) reduce recidivism in their communities (Wallace 2015, Hipp 2010).

Criminal justice system. Theories addressing the impact of incarceration on future criminal behavior include prison as a deterrent (↓ recidivism), the offender label and the challenges that come with it (↑ recidivism), and prison being a “school of crime” (↑ recidivism; NASEM 2022). However, these theories are still being tested, as the impact of longer sentences on the likelihood of recidivism is unclear.

More intensive supervision (e.g., frequent contact and drug tests) is more likely to result in technical violations and reincarceration, though it does not impact arrests (NASEM 2022). Offenders with parole officers trained in core correctional practices (addressing needs that increase risk of reincarceration, effective use of authority, building positive relationships) have less recidivism (Chadwick 2015).


Works Cited

Chadwick, N., Dewolf, A., & Serin, R. (2015). Effectively Training Community Supervision Officers: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Impact on Offender Outcome. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 42(10), 977-989. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854815595661. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0093854815595661

Council of State Governments Justice Center, February 2024. “Supervision Violations and Their Impact on Incarceration,” https://projects.csgjusticecenter.org/supervision-violations-impact-on-incarceration/report/#statedashboard

Hipp, J., Petersilia, J., & Turner, S. (2010). Parolee Recidism in Caolifornia: The Effect of Neighborhood Context and Social Service Agency Characteristics. Criminology, 84(4), 947-979. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00209.x

Justice Reinvestment Initiative Executive Oversight Council. (2022, December). Justice Reinvestment Initiative Report. Retrieved from Missouri Department of Corrections: https://doc.mo.gov/media/pdf/justice-reinvestment-initiative-2022-report

Missouri Department of Corrections. (2023, June 30). Recidivism Report FY23. Retrieved from Missouri Department of Corrections: https://doc.mo.gov/media/pdf/recidivism-report-fy23

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. The Limits of Recidivism: Measuring Success After Prison. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26459. The Limits of Recidivism: Measuring Success After Prison | The National Academies Press

Wallace, D. (2015). Do Neighborhood Organizational Resources Impact Recidivism? Sociology Inquiry, 85(2), 285-308. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/soin.12072

Wang, L. (2023, May). Punishment Beyond Prisons 2023: Incarceration and supervision by state. Retrieved from Prison Policy Initiative: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/correctionalcontrol2023.html

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