Alumni Impact Fund 2018: Winning Project

Thanks to all who supported the 2018 Alumni Impact Fund campaign. The following project has received Alumni Impact Fund support.

Expanding Education and Employment Opportunities for Inmates and Ex-offenders

Three inmates listen to a woman discuss options and privileges that they might earn while serving time in prison

Photo by Thinkstock/Getty Images

An estimated 64.6 million Americans (25 percent of the population) have a criminal record. Evidence indicates that ex-offenders have substantially lower probabilities of being hired than members of other disadvantaged groups—such as welfare recipients, high school dropouts, and those with "spotty" work histories. RAND research shows that prison inmates who participate in education programs and vocational training are significantly less likely to return to prison after release and are more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities.

Congress recently passed a bill that will significantly reform the criminal justice system, including expanding job training and other programs aimed at reducing recidivism rates among federal prisoners. Federal legislation that could impact higher education funding is also working its way through Congress, including a proposal to reinstate federal Pell Grants (subsidized college education loans) for incarcerated individuals. There is now a window of opportunity for RAND to help inform decisionmaking on how to expand education opportunities for those incarcerated and incentivize employers to hire formerly incarcerated individuals.

Alumni Impact Fund dollars will support sustained and extensive outreach to raise the profile of RAND’s seminal research on correctional education and the employment of ex-offenders. The support would help fund a conference that will bring together public, private, and third-sector stakeholders to focus on strategies for improving the employment rates of ex-offenders. The funding can help the research team translate their findings into products that could be readily shared, including through briefings with policymakers and government officials, to help advance education and career prospects for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.