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Recidivism rates in New York state have reportedly fallen to a 28-year low.

According to a report released this week by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, only 9 percent of ex-offenders released from prison in 2010 ended up back behind bars within three years of their original release for committing a new crime.

That figure, DOCCS said, is the lowest figure since the department started tracking recidivism rates in 1985.

Launched in 2010, the report tracked 24,605 former inmates for the first three years following their release from prison. Between 2011 and 2013, DOCCS said 42 percent of parolees were taken back into custody — 32 percent for violating the terms of parole and 9 percent for committing a new felony.

Anthony J. Annucci, DOCCS' acting commissioner, lauded the study's results.

"The research signifies our commitment to transformation and public safety," he said.

Among the ex-offenders monitored, women were much less likely to return to prison — with 5 percent of female ex-offenders returning for new convictions and 24 percent returning for parole violations. In comparison, 9 percent of male ex-offenders returned for new convictions while 33 percent returned for parole violations.

Overall, DOCCS reported 29 percent of female ex-offenders and 42 percent of male ex-offenders returned to custody within three years.

Younger ex-offenders were more likely to end up back in custody than older ex-offenders, DOCCS said. In addition, the more felonies an ex-offender had on their rap sheet, the more likely the former inmate was to return to prison.

According to DOCCS, recidivism rates have served as a useful tool for gauging the "success and accountability" of the department's efforts to rehabilitate inmates. The department pointed to the steady decline of ex-offenders returning to prison after committing new offenses as an important indication that its efforts have not been in vain.

To help keep numbers low, DOCCS said it plans to use a $370,000 grant to fund Swift and Certain, an initiative aimed at reducing recidivism —a goal Mary Kavaney, the state's assistant deputy secretary for public safety, said benefits all residents.

"Watching the constant decline of ex-offenders returning to prison for new crimes is a win for all New Yorkers," she said.

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Staff writer Samantha House can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or samantha.house@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @Citizen_House.

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