We spend $50 billion a year as a country to keep felons behind bars.
But a new report said we are getting it all wrong when it comes to rehabilitating them.
Statistics show four out of ten prisoners released from prison will end up right back in there.
The report showed Missouri is doing better than most states.
The Missouri Department of Corrections is responsible for more than 100,000 criminals.
Almost all of them will return to society.
In 2004, Missouri saw an all time high recidivism rate of 54 percent, meaning half of released convicts returned to prison within a couple years.
"Every state has a problem with it. If you have more than one percent you got a problem with it very clearly, MO Dept. of Corrections George Lombardi said.
Ex-prisoners face many challenges on the outside.
They have to find a job, somewhere to live, some type transportation, and a way to stay out of trouble.
"The philosophy has been to kick these guys out the prison gate with nothing more than a bus ticket and the clothes on their back. That just hasn't worked very well for public safety, Pew Center's Adam Gelb said.
The Pew Center's new report highlights Missouri TMs efforts to keep freed prisoners free.
After that all time high rate in 2004, Missouri created a program called the Missouri Reentry Process to help ex-prisoners become productive citizens.
"What we've done in more recent years to affect that is look at every possible alternative to bringing a person back to an expensive bed space to work with them in the community and to make them a productive citizen, Lombardi said.
The work paid off, that 54 percent recidivism rate is now a 36 percent rate.
Although Missouri TMs return rate has lowered the director of the department of corrections said there is still a long way to go.
"It's better than what it was, but we can never ever be satisfied until we get down to zero. That's our mission, Lombardi said.
Since the new program, Missouri TMs prison population has held steady for the last five years.
The Missouri Department of Corrections said the numbers are even better when you take out those who return to prison for violating their parole.
They said just 10 percent come back to prison with a new conviction.
If you would like to take a closer look at the report click here:
The Missouri Department of Corrections is responsible for more than 100,000 people throughout the state.
Most of those people are in prisons, on parole, or probation.
The Missouri Department of Corrections said that most of those people will return to our communities and, some within months will go right back to prison.
But since 2002 Missouri has been working really hard to try and change that problem.
Coming up tonight at ten I TMll have more on the story.
Tell us what you think. Do you think Missouri has a problem with recidivism?