Skip to content

Press Release

Press Release

Virginia’s Recidivism Rate Falls Even Lower, Remains the Lowest in the Country

February 03, 2020

RICHMOND — For the fourth consecutive year, Virginia has the lowest recidivism rate in the country. The newly announced rate of 23.1 percent is down slightly from last year, when Virginia posted a rate of 23.4 percent.

For the first time since Virginia topped the list for the lowest recidivism rate in the country, there is a tie for that top place, as South Carolina appears to have also achieved a 23.1 percent recidivism rate.

Virginia’s recidivism rate remains the lowest among the 42 states that report 3-year recidivism rates by tallying the number of offenders re-incarcerated within three years of their release from prison.

“The heart of the mission of the Department of Corrections is public safety,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Today, offenders are reentering society more prepared than ever to lead productive lives. Since Director Harold Clarke’s arrival in 2010, we have witnessed a significant and continuing culture shift in the Department of Corrections, where reentry preparation now starts on day one of incarceration.”

Contributing to Virginia’s leading rate are the effective re-entry services, educational programming, and treatment offered in VADOC facilities as well as effective supervision by VADOC probation and parole officers in the community post-release. The VADOC tailors its programming and supervision to address each offender’s criminogenic risks and needs.

“Our success is the result of the collaborative efforts and incredibly hard work of our dedicated staff, community partners, and the returning citizens themselves,” said Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke. “When incarcerated men and women successfully reintegrate into society, everyone benefits – the Commonwealth, our communities, and the families – especially the children – of those returning home. We appreciate the support we receive from Secretary Moran, Governor Northam, and the legislature. We wouldn’t see this success without the resources they have dedicated to public safety.”

Of the 12,385 state responsible offenders released from incarceration in Virginia in fiscal year 2015, 2,862 were re-incarcerated within three years. Virginia waits at least four years to calculate the 3-year re-incarceration rate to ensure all court orders are accounted for. All state responsible sentences after release are counted as recidivism in Virginia, including technical violations and sentences for offenses that occurred prior to release.

More information can be found on

Return to the top of the page