The random samples of releases, limited to inmates whose sentences were longer than 1 year and 1 day, were 1,806 for 1970, 2,173 for 1978, and 489 for 1980. The followup was 3 years. The recidivism rates for 1970, 1978, and 1980 were respectively 51.4 percent, 43.9 percent, and 38 percent. To determine whether the recidivism rate decline was attributable to differences in releasee characteristics, the study analyzed the relationship of some releasee background characteristics to recidivism. This was done using the salient factor score computed for each releasee by the parole commission. This score encompasses criminal history, employment record, and other social and demographic items. The declining recidivism rate was partly due to the release of lower risk offenders in the years after 1970, particularly to the decline in the release of auto theft offenders, a group with an extremely high recidivism rate. Arrest was more likely in the first few months after release, and higher risk releasees were arrested sooner than lower risk releasees. 2 tables, 1 graph, 6 footnotes, and 7 references.