Published: Oct 17, 2011 8:21 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Fewer convicts are returning to Florida's prisons after being released.
    
A state Department of Corrections study released Monday shows 30 percent of inmates freed in 2007 returned within three years.
    
That compares to 34 percent who were back behind bars within three years after being released in 2003.
    
Prison officials say a key factor was letting probation officers handle minor violations without sending probationers back into custody.
    
The lower repeat offense rate coincided with a 10 percent drop in prison admissions last year.
    
Florida's overall crime rate also declined. It's expected to continue dropping through 2013.
    
Preliminary indications are the three-year prison return rate also will be about 30 percent for inmates released in 2008.

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