Cover: What Corrections Officials Need to Know to Partner with Colleges to Implement College Programs in Prisons

What Corrections Officials Need to Know to Partner with Colleges to Implement College Programs in Prisons

Published Jun 29, 2021

by Lois M. Davis, John Linton

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Each year, more than 700,000 adults leave U.S. prisons and return to local communities. While these individuals are serving their time, prison facilities are responsible for both incarcerating them and providing them with rehabilitative programs so that when they return to their communities, they are better equipped than they were when they left. Education services can not only improve the lives and conditions of those in prison but also help these individuals compete for jobs in those communities when they are released. In today’s economy, having a college education is critical if one wants to compete in the job market. Two-thirds of job postings require some level of college education.

Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest at the federal and state levels in expanding higher education in prisons, particularly expansions that offer a path to degrees or industry-recognized credentials. This tool aims to provide guidance on key questions about in-prison college programs and help corrections officials in assessing such opportunities and partnering with colleges to implement an in-prison college program.

This guide is intended to be a starting point for corrections officials who are considering partnering with a college to implement an in-prison college program within their prison facilities or who currently have such a program and would like additional information to help ensure the success of that program. The guide is relevant for two-year and four-year college programs.

Funding support for this guide has been provided by the Michelson 20MM Foundation and a gift from Natalie Crawford of the RAND Corporation. This research was conducted in the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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