Press Release

For media inquiries, contact Brian Sheppard at [email protected] or 973-642-8583. Press Releases available here.

Seton Hall Law Issues Report Debunking Government GTMO Recidivism Rate Claims with Data and Statement from Government Public Affairs Officer for Detainee Policy

Government Public Affairs Officer says 27-28% GTMO Recidivism Rate is ‘Odd’ and Inflated

Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research has issued a report, National Security Deserves Better: ‘Odd’ Recidivism Numbers Undermine the Guantanamo Policy Debate, which shows the government’s GTMO recidivist numbers to be the product of a public relations campaign. The report documents, for the first time, an admission by a government public affairs official that the 27-28% GTMO recidivist number is wrong: “odd” and “conflated”; documents wild fluctuations — both up and down — in the number of released Guantanamo detainees said by the government to have re-engaged in activities that are counter to the United States’ security interests; shows that the government knew that GTMO was populated with “low level” detainees, but engaged in a public relations campaign to the contrary, claiming it housed “the worst of the worst”; and documents a sampling of hundreds of detainees who have returned to normal lives, including attending college, going to law school, working as electricians and even working as translators for American soldiers in Afghanistan, and warning the United States of a plot to send mail bombs into America, thereby thwarting the attempt.

A recent House Armed Services Committee report improperly cited the number of GTMO recidivists at 27%. Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, Director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research, commented, “The HASC spent one year producing a report that is misleading and perpetuates a falsehood. The shreds of justification for GTMO disappear in the harsh truth: Once released, the so called ‘worst of the worst,’ by and large return to the same peaceful lives they lived before their detention.”

Seton Hall Center for Policy & Research Fellow and Report co-author Lauren Winchester noted, “Even the government’s Public Affairs Officer for Detainee Policy admits the 27-28% recidivism number is wrong, and in his words, ‘odd’ and ‘conflated.’ He says that early on ‘Suspected’ was mixed up with ‘Confirmed’ and the Suspected category is really nothing more than, again in his words, ‘a sort of “early watch” system.’ Because of that, he says, ‘Someone on the “Suspected” list could very possibly NOT be engaged in activities that are counter to our national security interests.’ He capitalized the word “NOT.” The government’s supposed Confirmed is no more than 16%, and the number, since President Obama took office, is just over 3%.”

The supposed “Confirmed” number of recidivists is also suspect. Seton Hall Center for Policy & Research Fellow Philip Taylor noted, “Some detainees ‘Confirmed’ as recidivists, were downgraded to ‘Suspected’ after they were killed, and some ‘Confirmed’ as recidivists had actually never been to Guantanamo.”

Center for Policy & Research Fellow Chrystal Loyer agreed, asking “Why do they keep repeating the same anonymous, discredited and internally inconsistent numbers over and over again? They’re trying to retroactively justify the detentions of all those men released without charge by pointing at a few and still claiming they’re all the ‘worst of the worst,’ even though they know better — and always have.”

Seton Hall University School of Law, New Jersey’s only private law school, and a leading law school in the New York metropolitan area, is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law through excellence in scholarship and teaching, with a strong focus on clinical education. The Center for Policy and Research enables students to gain practical experience while engaging in research and analysis that promotes respect for the rights of individuals worldwide. The students examine primary sources pertaining to national security law and the practices of the U.S. government, as well as the reliability of forensic evidence for criminal investigations and prosecution. Seton Hall Law is located in Newark, NJ and offers both day and evening degree programs. For more information, visit


Mark P. Denbeaux
Professor of Law and Director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research
Cell: 201-214-6785
Email: [email protected]

Michael J. Ricciardell, J.D.
Legal Media Officer
Cell: 908-447-3034
Email: [email protected]

April 96, 2012