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RAND Research Report

“In this report, we [the authors] examine the evidence about the effectiveness of correctional education for incarcerated adults in the United States. By correctional education, we mean the following: adult basic education (ABE): basic skills instruction in arithmetic, reading, writing, and, if needed, English as a second language (ESL); adult secondary education (ASE): instruction to complete high school or prepare for a certificate of high school equivalency, such as the General Education Development (GED); vocational education or career and technical education (CTE): training in general employment skills and in skills for specific jobs or industries; and postsecondary education (PSE): college-level instruction that enables an individual to earn college credit that may be applied toward a two-year or four-year postsecondary degree. Although some may consider life skills programs a part of correctional education, our project focuses specifically on the four types of academic and vocational training programs summarized above. We also limit our focus to correctional education programs provided in the institutional setting, as opposed to postrelease or community-based programs. Finally, our focus is on correctional education programs provided at the state level” (p. 1). Six chapters comprise this report: introduction; study methodology; the relationship between correctional education and recidivism; the relationship between correctional education and employment; the relationship between computer-assisted instruction and academic performance; and conclusions. Inmates who participated in correctional education programs recidivated 43% less, were 13% more likely to find jobs post-release, and learned just as well using computer-assisted instruction as being taught face-to-face. Appendixes provide summaries of the studies included in the recidivism, employment, and computer-assisted instruction meta-analyses.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults Cover

"The agencies of the U.S. corrections enterprise manage offenders confined in prisons and jails and those who have been released into the community on probation and parole. The enterprise is one of the three central pillars of the criminal justice system, along with police and the courts. Corrections agencies face major challenges from declining budgets, increasing populations under supervision, problems of equity and fairness in administrating justice, and other concerns. To better achieve its objectives and play its role within the criminal justice enterprise, the sector needs innovation in corrections technology, policy, and practice. This report draws on published literature and new structured deliberations of a practitioner Corrections Advisory Panel to frame an innovation agenda. It identifies and prioritizes potential improvements in technology, policy, and practice in both community and institutional corrections" (RAND). Six chapters are contained in this publication: introduction—the need for innovation in corrections, and building an innovation agenda for corrections; the state of corrections today; corrections technology and practice today; from corrections today to corrections tomorrow—identifying needs in community and institutional corrections; prioritizing needs to develop an innovation agenda for corrections; conclusions—fostering innovation in corrections. Appendixes provide full lists for community and institutional corrections needs. "Some of the top-tier needs identified by the panel and researchers include adapting transcription and translation tools for the corrections environment, developing training for officers on best practices for managing offenders with mental health needs, and changing visitation policies (for example, using video visitation) to reduce opportunities for visitors to bring contraband into jails and prisons. Such high-priority needs provide a menu of innovation options for addressing key problems or capitalizing on emerging opportunities in the corrections sector" (RAND).

Fostering Innovation in Community and Institutional Corrections: Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for the U.S. Corrections Sector Cover

This study examines the effectiveness of correctional education for adults and for juveniles, and the challenges associated with this programming. Five chapters are contained in this report: introduction; whether correctional education for incarcerated adults is effective; a systematic review of correctional education programs for incarcerated juveniles—results for corrective reading, computer-assisted instruction, personalized and intensive instruction, other remedial instruction programs, vocational/career technical education, and GED completion; RAND Correctional Education Survey—results for correctional education programs today, funding and the impact of the 2008 recession, postsecondary education, use of technology and preparedness for implementation of the 2014 GED exam, and outcome indicators and postrelease measures of success; and conclusion and recommendations. "The results of the meta-analysis are truly encouraging. Confirming the results of previous meta-analyses—while using more (and more recent) studies and an even more rigorous approach to selecting and evaluating them than in the past—the study shows that correctional education for incarcerated adults reduces the risk of postrelease reincarceration (by 13 percentage points) and does so cost-effectively (a savings of five dollars on reincarceration costs for every dollar spent on correctional education). And when it comes to postrelease employment for adults—another outcome key to successful reentry—researchers find that correctional education may increase such employment … Overall, this study shows that the debate should no longer be about whether correctional education is effective or cost-effective but rather on where the gaps in our knowledge are and opportunities to move the field forward" (p. iii-iv).

How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here? The Results of a Comprehensive Evaluation Cover
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