RAND Correctional Education Project

In support of the Second Chance Act of 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded a cooperative agreement to the RAND Corporation to evaluate and improve educational methods for incarcerated adults and juveniles. The RAND Corporation—a nationally recognized non-partisan, non-profit public policy think tank—is conducting this study in partnership with the Correctional Education Association (CEA), a non-profit professional association serving educators and administrators who provide services to students in correctional settings. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) is serving as a project advisor.

  • Prison-Based Education Declined During Economic Downturn

    Feb 18, 2014

    Large states cut spending on prison education programs by an average of 10 percent between the 2009 and 2012 fiscal years, while medium-sized states cut spending by 20 percent. While the drop appears to have resulted from budget cuts prompted by the economic downturn, evidence suggests that the curtailment of prison education could increase prison system costs in the longer term.

  • Obama Administration Expands Prisoner Access to Pell Grants

    Jul 31, 2015

    The U.S. Department of Education launched the Second Chance Pell Pilot program to restore federal Pell grant eligibility to prisoners with the goal of helping them turn their lives around and get jobs. RAND research finds that inmates who take part in education programs have 43% lower odds of returning to prison. Also, every $1 invested in correctional education will save taxpayers between $4 and $5 in reincarceration costs.

Project Goals

The study's primary goals are to:

  • Examine the changing landscape in which educational programs are provided to incarcerated adults and juveniles.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of correctional education programs.
  • Identify innovative strategies that show promise in educating incarcerated adults and juveniles within a changing correctional environment.

To address these aims, RAND is undertaking an array of research activities, including a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of primary research on correctional education programs, a survey of state correctional education directors, and a series of in-depth case studies of promising programs and innovative practices. The project will culminate in a series of publications that will provide information about the effectiveness of correctional education programs and of program components associated with positive outcomes; highlight innovative programs and approaches; and provide guidance on how to develop and administer high-quality education in a correctional setting. The study will also provide detailed focus group and survey results that summarize what correctional education looks like today and the changing landscape for these programs. These materials will be available on this website as they are completed.

Both the study and this website are in progress. As key findings become available, we will highlight them and the ways in which the findings can help inform the development and implementation of correctional education programs that work.

This website is funded through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).