RAND research on correctional education—adult basic education, GED preparation, vocational training, and post-secondary education—looks at the effect correctional education has on recidivism and post-release employment and at its cost-effectiveness.
Policymakers are considering how to reduce mass incarceration in the United States. Correctional education programs can help reduce recidivism and improve post-release employment outcomes. This saves taxpayers money.
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.
Assesses the effectiveness of correctional education for both incarcerated adults and juveniles, presents the results of a survey of U.S. state correctional education directors, and offers recommendations for improving correctional education.
Inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not. Employment after release is 13 percent higher among prisoners who participated in either academic or vocational education programs than those who did not.