Studies conducted over the last two decades almost unanimously indicate that higher education in prison programs reduces recidivism and translates into reductions in crime, savings to taxpayers, and long-term contributions to the safety and well-being of the communities to which formerly incarcerated people return.
Recent research on prison education programs presents discouraging statistics on the current recidivism rate. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) reported in 2011 that nearly 7 in 10 people who are formerly incarcerated will commit a new crime, and half will end up back in prison within three years. Given that about 95 out of every 100 incarcerated people eventually rejoin society, it is crucial that we develop programs and tools to effectively reduce recidivism.
Prison education is far more effective at reducing recidivism than boot camps, “shock” incarceration or vocational training, according to the National Institute of Justice. In 2001, the Correctional Education Association’s “Three State Recidivism Study” quantified this reduction, demonstrating that correctional education lowered long-term recidivism by 29 percent.