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ERIC Number: ED543577
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Feb
Pages: 31
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Correctional Education: Assessing the Status of Prison Programs and Information Needs
Klein, Steven; Tolbert, Michelle; Bugarin, Rosio; Cataldi, Emily Forrest; Tauschek, Gina
Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, US Department of Education
The most educationally disadvantaged population in the United States resides in our nation's prisons. Incarcerated adults have among the lowest academic skill levels and highest disability and illiteracy rates of any segment of our society--factors that likely contributed to their imprisonment. Upon completing their sentence, most inmates re-enter society no more skilled than when they left. Frustrated by a lack of marketable skills, burdened with a criminal record and released without transitional services or supports, many return to illegal activities. Not surprisingly, statistics show that more than three-quarters of prisoners are recidivists caught in a cycle of catch-and-release. Drawing on existing federal data sources, this report presents indicators on the scale and effectiveness of correctional education programs offered in federal and state prisons. Documenting trends in inmate access to instructional programs, the characteristics of participants and the outcomes of program participants, each indicator is intended to provide readers with an understanding of the status of correctional education programs today and the context in which they are evolving. As will become evident, detailed data on program performance are often missing. Moreover, due to the timing of federal survey efforts, indicators contained in this report--which are based on the most current data available--describe conditions that were in some cases last evaluated in 1997. As a consequence, little is known about how recent economic conditions, which have caused many states to cut back services, have affected the availability of correctional education programs. The answer to obtaining more meaningful data involves reconsidering the substance and organization of federal data collections, as well as identifying alternative sources of program data. Accordingly, each indicator closes with a summary of the type of information that is needed to assess the operation of correctional education programs. The report concludes with recommendations for improving the overall scope and reliability of correctional education program data. In particular, it calls for harnessing state-level correctional data, typically collected on an annual basis for administrative purposes, to provide a level of richness and description of program-specific characteristics that are beyond what is feasible using national survey approaches. (Contains 15 tables, 9 figures and 9 footnotes.)
Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, US Department of Education. Available from: ED Pubs. P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Tel: 202-245-7896; Fax: 202-485-0013; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (ED)