RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Virginia has the lowest recidivism rate in the United States for the fourth year in a row, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Corrections.

The newly announced rate of 23.1 percent is down from last year's rate of 23.4 percent.

Among 42 states reporting three-year recidivism rates tallying the number of offenders re-incarcerated within three years of their release from prison, Virginia's recidivism rate remains the lowest.

Virginia and South Carolina currently have the lowest recidivism rates in the country.

"The heart of the mission of the Department of Corrections is public safety," said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in the release. "Today, offenders are re-entering society more prepared than ever to lead productive lives. Since Director Harold Clarke's arrival in 2010, we have witnessed a significant and continuing culture shift in the Department of Corrections, where re-entry preparation now starts on day one of incarceration."

VADOC says its re-entry services, educational programming, treatment offered facilities, and supervision by VADOC probation and parole officers are what contribute to the Commonwealth's low recidivism rate as well as tailoring its programming and supervision to address each offender's criminogenic risks and needs.

"Our success is the result of the collaborative efforts and incredibly hard work of our dedicated staff, community partners, and the returning citizens themselves," said VADOC Director Harold Clarke in the release. "When incarcerated men and women successfully reintegrate into society, everyone benefits, the Commonwealth, our communities, and the families, especially the children, of those returning home. We appreciate the support we receive from Secretary Moran, Governor Northam, and the legislature. We wouldn't see this success without the resources they have dedicated to public safety."

In fiscal year 2015, there were 12,385 state responsible offenders released from incarceration in the Commonwealth. Within three years, 2,862 were re-incarcerated.

To make sure all court orders are accounted for, Virginia waits at least four years to calculate the three-year re-incarceration rate. This includes sentences for offenses that occurred prior to release and technical violations.

More information can be found on VADOC's website.