In 2013 the Rand Corporation completed a meta-analysis of studies examining “correctional education” – basically, any sort of vocational or academic educational program for prisoners. The study (Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults, Davis, Lois M., Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica Saunders, and Jeremy N. V. Miles,. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2013) asked these questions:
- How effective are correctional education programs in reducing recidivism?
- How effective are correctional education programs in improving one’s chances of obtaining employment upon release from prison?
- Is correctional education cost effective?
- What types of educational programs are most effective?
- What additional information is needed to understand the characteristics of effective programs and further build the research evidence base?
- Inmates who participate in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than those who did not. This translates to a reduction in the risk of recidivating of 13 percentage points.
- It may improve their chances of obtaining employment after release. The odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education was 13 percent higher than the odds for those who did not participate in correctional education.
- Inmates exposed to computer-assisted instruction learned slightly more in reading and substantially more in math in the same amount of instructional time.
- Providing correctional education can be cost-effective when it comes to reducing recidivism.