Congressional Briefing - February 18, 2014

Correctional Education: How Effective Is It and What Can We Do to Make It Better?

Women participate in a nutrition class at the Los Angeles County women's jail

Reuters/Lucy Nicholson


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


2168 Rayburn House Office Building (Gold Room)
Washington, D.C.


About the Program

Over two million adults are incarcerated in U.S. prisons, and each year more than 700,000 leave Federal and state prisons and return to communities. Unfortunately, within three years, 40 percent will be re-incarcerated.

One reason for this is that ex-offenders do not have the knowledge, training, and skills to support a successful return to their communities. Trying to reduce such high re-incarceration rates is partly why so many resources are devoted to educating and training individuals while in prison.

But how effective—and cost-effective—is correctional education? Lois Davis will present results from a comprehensive RAND study on correctional education that was conducted for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, and funded under the Second Chance Act of 2007. Specifically, Davis will present:

  • evidence that correctional education programs are effective in helping to reduce recidivism and improve ex-offenders' post-release employment outcomes and that such programs are cost-effective in doing so;
  • recommendations about how policymakers can help correctional educators and officials best deliver the education and vocational training that can help lead to positive reentry outcomes.

About the Speaker

Lois M. Davis is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Davis currently is leading a national study on prison closings and other responses of state correctional systems to fiscal pressures. She also is conducting an evaluation of a demonstration project of post-secondary education for incarcerated adults. Davis just completed a comprehensive assessment of correctional education in the United States for incarcerated adults and juveniles and, before that, a multiyear study on the public health implications of prisoner reentry in California. Past research includes a commissioned study to examine disparities faced by African-American and Latino boys and men in California across specific socioeconomic, health, safety, and school readiness indicators and the health status of returning prisoners. Davis received her Ph.D. in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges.

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