The Rapidian Home

New police chief notes lowering recidivism rates; continues to seek ways to lower rates further

A conversation with GRPD Chief of Police David Rahinsky reveals he's looking at ways to address recidivism in Michigan- which at a 28% rate is significantly lower than the national level. Rahinsky says it's still too high.

/Lee Bloomquist

"Your question is timely,” says our new Chief David Rahinsky of the Grand Rapids Police Department when presented with accounts of remarkably low rates of recidivism among participants in a Peace Education Program at San Antonio’s Dominguez State Jail, and then asked about his approach for checking and applying this kind of result.

Recidivism is the percentage of parolees returning to prison within three years, according to the State of Michigan’s Public Safety Dashboard of key performance measures.

“Between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent," according to a 2011 report from The Pew Center on the States titled State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. “Total state spending on corrections is now about $52 billion, the bulk of which is spent on prisons.”

On Dec. 15 Chief Rahinsky had been a featured speaker at U.S. Attorney General for the Western District of Michigan, Patrick Miles’s new program with the Michigan Department of Corrections called Facing Choices.

“The goal of the Facing Choices program," says Miles in a news release from the United States Department of Justice, "is to reduce recidivism.”

"I [recently] had a meeting with Patrick Miles, U. S. Attorney, Under-Sheriff Jon Hess, several Federal law enforcement agency heads, and about a hundred or so probationers or parolees from the prison system," Chief Rahinsky continues. "We shared with them that Michigan is doing a very good job at addressing recidivism. Right now in Michigan it’s only 28 percent-- which is still too high. But it’s only a fraction of what it is on the national level. What we addressed yesterday with that group is if you go back to the same life and the same issues that put you where you currently are, you’re going to get the same results.” 

On point, is the classic quote from Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

"In the back of the room were social service providers- everyone from Grand Rapids Community College to people from Cherry Street Health Services. I think one of the things that is unique in Grand Rapids is what we touched on previously- that the support is here to help people succeed even despite challenges that they’ve had in the past. Even people who’ve been incarcerated," says Rahinsky. "When we went around the room, one of the gentlemen from the Department of Corrections asked who was a first time offender, who was a second time offender, who was a third time offender. There was an individual in there who had been imprisoned four times, and one who had been in there five times. The fact that this community still reaches out to them, tries to embrace them, tries to put them on the right trail, tries to show them what social support is there for them, and that law enforcement sees their role as being pro-active and supportive is unique from any place that I’ve been.”

This may well be an explanation for the downward sloping curve of recidivism in Michigan, as charted on the State of Michigan Dashboard. And again, the point can be emphasized by a quote from Albert Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

After review of a six minute introductory video on the Peace Education Program, Rahinsky is calling for even more information, with a requested presentation at the next Police Chief's Advisory Team (PCAT) meeting.


“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who choose to do evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” - Albert Einstein

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.