Department of Corrections’ Poor Practices Hinder Recidivism Reductions, Audit Finds

A new audit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) found that poor administrative practices hinder potential reductions in recidivism and deny inmates access to rehabilitation programs.

In 2012, the CDCR released set a number of goals, including increasing access to rehabilitation programs. Despite a budget increase from $234 million in 2013-14 to $298 million in 2018-19, CDCR did not undertake sufficient effort to determine whether new programs were effective at reducing recidivism.

The audit found that in 2015-16, inmates completing rehabilitation programs ended up back in prison at about the same rate as inmates who were not assigned to those programs. A potential reason, the audit found, was that CDCR did not ensure vendors provided consistent and effective programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism. The auditor reported that 20 percent of the programs provided were not backed by evidence they would work.

The auditor recommended that the Legislature require CDCR to establish performance targets and partner with external researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of its programs.

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