NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED558210
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov
Pages: 68
Abstractor: ERIC
Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-State Analysis of Postsecondary Correctional Education Policy
Erisman, Wendy; Contardo, Jeanne Bayer
Institute for Higher Education Policy
Higher education for prisoners, often the subject of public controversy, remains a crucial strategy in efforts to reduce recidivism and slow the growth of the nation's incarcerated population. New research conducted by the Institute for Higher Education Policy shows that corrections officials are finding innovative ways to support postsecondary programs in their prison systems. Despite the loss of Pell Grant eligibility a decade ago, prisoners are participating in higher education in record numbers nationwide. With additional funding and concentrated efforts to reduce the many barriers that still make it difficult for prisoners to gain access to higher education, postsecondary correctional education programs offer the potential to provide incarcerated men and women with a second chance at productive citizenship. This report is based upon several primary assumptions that reflect current research in the field of justice policy. Data collected by the federal government show that prisoners nationwide are far less educated than the general U.S. population, and before incarceration, were significantly more impoverished. Research studies provide strong evidence that postsecondary correctional education can achieve a variety of important purposes. Higher education can improve conditions within correctional facilities, enhance prisoner self-esteem and prospects for employment after release, and function as a cost-effective approach to reducing recidivism. Educating prisoners also allows them access to the many economic and social benefits associated with higher education. Postsecondary correctional education offers a chance to break the cycle of inequality and benefit both the formerly incarcerated person and the society in which he or she lives. This report examines what postsecondary correctional education programs exist, and how corrections officials fund and implement those programs. The Institute for Higher Education Policy undertook an original survey of correctional education administrators to gather data about these questions. This report uses that survey to examine the details of postsecondary correctional education programs in the state and federal prison systems as of 2003-04. Key findings are included in this report. Recommendations include: (1) Additional funding is needed to increase the number of prisoners who have access to higher education; (2) State-level support is essential if postsecondary correctional education programs are to thrive; and (3) Building state-level support for postsecondary correctional education will necessarily involve educating policymakers and the public. The following are appended: (1) Survey Methodology; and (2) Survey Instrument.
Institute for Higher Education Policy. 1825 K Street Suite 720, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-861-8223; Fax: 202-861-9307; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Tests/Questionnaires; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Ford Foundation
Authoring Institution: Institute for Higher Education Policy