Recidivism: Inmate Released, New Crime

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RENO, NV - Two murders in northern Nevada last week are focusing attention on the chronic problem of recidivism: released inmates committing new crimes.

The motives behind both murders last week remain unknown by police, but each likely had its origins in the troubled and violent backgrounds of the two men who were behind them.

The double murder of two women, preceded possibly by another homicide in Arizona, are attributed to Anthony Gustave Nelson.

The murder of a woman in a motel east of downtown is the apparent work of Zollie Dumas.

What the two men have in common is they were both recently released from prison.

Nelson after serving a full term for sexual assault in Arizona.

Dumas paroled here in Nevada after 20 years behind bars for the murder of another woman--his fiancée.

Sadly, there's little unusual about recent releases resulting in crime.

A new study just released by the Justice Department examined the records of more than 400-thousand prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states.

By three years nearly two thirds (68%) had committed new crimes.

By five years more than 3 quarters (77%) had been arrested.

Even more striking in light of our two recent cases is how quickly many commit crimes.

Of those who reoffended within five years, more than a third (37%) did so in their first six months back in society.

More than half (57%) did so in the first year.

The study also found those convicted of property crimes (82%) and drugs (77%) were the most likely to reoffend.

But those involved in violent crime weren't far behind (71%).

Men, by the way, were more likely to commit new crimes than women, and recidivism rates dropped as the ages of inmates increased.