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

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

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.

This report is part of the RAND tool series. RAND tools may include models, databases, calculators, computer code, GIS mapping tools, practitioner guidelines, web applications, and various toolkits. All RAND tools undergo rigorous peer review to ensure both high data standards and appropriate methodology in keeping with RAND's commitment to quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.