Effects of Prison Education

By Martin Maximino Image courtesy

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, with more than 2.2 million inmates in federal, state and local facilities. Although the number of life sentences has quadrupled since 1984, every year approximately 700,000 citizens leave federal and state prisons in the United States to begin a new life. Moreover, the number of releases from U.S. prisons in 2012 exceeded that of admissions for the fourth consecutive year, contributing to a slight decline in the total U.S. prison population.

The professional and personal lives of these individuals after they leave prison show great variety, across different states and income levels. Many ex-offenders struggle to reintegrate into their communities and face significant challenges in re-entering the job market. In this context, recidivism often ensues: The Pew Center on the States suggests that perhaps half of all inmates released will return within three years. But the story of their life challenges typically begins even before conviction and prison time.

A 2014 U.S. National Research Council report authored by some of the nation’s reading criminal justice scholars notes: Many people enter prison with educational deficits and could benefit from education while incarcerated. Literacy rates among prisoners generally are low, and substantially lower than in the general population. Over the past 40 years, the percentage of prisoners having completed high school at the time of their incarceration fluctuated between

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Prison Education Programs Effective at Reducing Recidivism

The RAND Corporation recently published a study that analyzed 50 research papers and studies concerning the effectiveness of prison education programs in reducing recidivism rates.  The study, as previously reported here at Prison Education News and at the Prison Law Blog, showed, yet again, that prison education programming is still the least expensive, most effective

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Prison Education Programs Cut Following Recession

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

A recent study — “How Effective Is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here” — from the RAND Corporation has shown that following the recession, prison education programs were cut to make up for budgetary shortfalls.  Specifically, between 2009 and 2012, educational programming was reduced by 6 percent on average, with larger states slashing prison education funding by 10 percent and smaller states doing the same by 20 percent.  This flies in the face of recent research which shows prison education to result in a 13 percent reduction in recidivism rates.  According to Lois Davis, RAND senior policy researcher, “There are now fewer teachers, fewer course offerings and fewer students enrolled in academic education programs.”

To make the point even more clear, the RAND study also asserted that for every $1 spent on correctional education, $5 is saved on incarceration costs.  According to RAND’s Davis, “The debate is no longer about whether or not correctional education is effective or whether it’s cost effective.”  This is because correctional education has been proven to be both beyond any doubt.  The Urban Institute’s Jesse Jannetta agreed, telling Time Magazine, “Investing in things like prison education is a way to not just have people reoffend, but have them be successful wage earners and go back and make the biggest possible contribution to their communities.”

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Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Building College Pathways From Rikers Island

By Aviva Teva and Ray Tebout – Huffington Post
We know from data and personal experience that expanding college access and supports is a cost-effective recidivism reduction and public safety strategy that will foster the transformation of entire communities. In August, the RAND Corporation published a meta-analysis of 30 years of research on correctional education in the U.S., showing that inmates who participate in education programs are 43% less likely to recidivate than inmates who do not and post-release employment was 13% higher for those who had participated in education while incarcerated. Education opportunities and supports in criminal justice and reentry settings, often known as “reentry education,” and postsecondary reentry education in particular is a powerful poverty reduction and justice reinvestment approach that addresses historic injustices within both the criminal justice and education systems. The New York Reentry Education Network (NYREN) is a network of community-based reentry service providers that partner with government agencies and academic institutions in New York City to center education in reentry and mobilize for systems change, including expanding college access to individuals involved in the criminal justice system.

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Report: Prison Education Programs Could Save Money

By Allie Bidwell

Prison inmates who receive general education or vocational training are far less likely to return to prison and significantly more likely to find employment after their release, according to a new report from a nonprofit global policy think tank.  Image courtesy

Researchers at the RAND Corporation found through an analysis of past studies, released on Thursday, that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43 percent lower chance of returning to prison than those who do not. Additionally, if prisoners participated in academic or vocational education programs, their chances of employment after release were 13 percent higher than their peers.

“Our findings suggest that we no longer need to debate whether correctional education works,” said lead researcher Lois Davis, in a statement.

Each year, about 700,000 people leave federal and state prisons and about half of them return to prison within three years, according to the Department of Justice. The report suggests that education programs can help lower the costs associated with returning to jail.

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