Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 12

H IGHER E DUCATION IN THE P RISON S YSTEM

Annotated Bibliography
Introduction Mass incarceration is a growing problem in the United States and majority of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma, much less a college degree. The largest disparity in educational attainment between prisoners and the general population has been and continues to be in postsecondary education. (Brazzell, Crayton, Mukamal, Solomon, Li ndahl 7) Are the two related? Education programs in general have shown to play a significant role in successful prisoner reentry, reducing recidivism and crime rates, closing achievement gaps, and saving money, and yet only 33% of prisons offer college courses. (Davis, Bozick, Steele, Saunders, Miles 4) How does higher education in prison specifically affect crime rates and society as a whole, and what types and how many college programs exist in federal and state prisons? As the Staff Advisor for Mountainview Project Student Org. here at Rutgers (a social action student organization that promotes awareness on campus for prison reform and reducing recidivism through educational opportunities), as well as having served on the Student Advisory Council for NJ-STEP (a consortium of higher education institutions in partnership with DOC and Parole that offers opportunities in higher education for the incarcerated), I have particular interest in showcasing evidence toward successful education programs in prisons and demonstrating reasons why providing opportunities to receive postsecondary education is especially important within this population. Education, unlike punishment, serves to benefit both inmates as well as society in more ways than any other correctional or rehabilitation program. It provides inmates with hope, knowledge, achievement, and possibilities and there have been direct links between in-prison education and reducing recidivism.

Lucille Lu Special Issues in Higher Education April 20, 2014

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

Higher Education in the Prison System


Annotated Bibliography

Brazzell, Crayton, Mukamal, Solomon, Lindahl. (2009). From the Classroom to the Community: Exploring the Role of Education during Incarceration and Reentry. The Urban Institute. This publication outlines the effectiveness of education during incarceration and reentry, as well as some of the challenges in providing education to inmates. The Urban Institute along with John Jay College of Criminal Justice hosted a Roundtable with 29 people to assess the state of knowledge and practice and identify promising new approaches, issues of concern, and opportunities for collaboration and innovation. (Brazzell, et al. 3) Through researching the disparities in educational attainment, particularly postsecondary education, between prisoners and the rest of the country, it was found that while 98% of correctional facilities offered education programs, only 32% of facilities offered postsecondary education. (Brazzell, et al. 11) With the research on effectiveness, reducing recidivism and increasing employment were the two main effects that were indicated with correctional education and suggested that a 7 to 9 percent reduction in recidivism can result in significant cost savings for taxpayers. (Brazzell, et al. 19) Some of the challenges discussed were dealing with a diverse population with a wide range of education, limited funding and resources, short stays and frequent transfers, and security concerns. (Brazzell, et al. 25-27) However, the publication

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

gives a suggested outline of achieving program success. Through assessing incarcerated students academic background, ensuring well-trained and supported teachers, appropriate technology and effective incentives (Brazzell, et al. 29-34), we are given a general idea of necessary factors in correctional education.

Davis, Bozick, Steele, Saunders, Miles. (2013). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults. Rand Corporation. Reported in 2013, this research currently offers the most up-to-date analysis of education in prisons and their effectiveness. Using relevant literature from studies between 1980 and 2011, RAND focuses on the relationship between correctional education programs and recidivism, employment, and costs. Their meta-analytic findings provide further support that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces an individuals risk of recidivating after release from prison. (Davis, et al. xviii) As the most comprehensive study to date, the report provides evidence from a wide range of studies to show evidence of the effectiveness of prison education. The primary goal of the meta-analyses is to understand the role that correctional education plays in rehabilitation and reentry back into society. Background information on U.S. correctional education is first given: With respect to postsecondary education, 51 percent of the general U.S. adult population had at least some postsecondary education compared with only 14.4 percent of state prison

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

inmates. (Davis, et al. 2-3) Yet, only 33 percent of state and federal correctional facilities offer college courses. (Davis, et al. 4) To examine the relationship between recidivism and correctional education, 50 studies were used to estimate that on average, the odds of recidivating among inmates receiving correctional education are 64 percent of the odds of recidivating among inmates not receiving correctional education. (Davis, et al. 29) This means that correctional education would be expected to reduce three year rearrest and reincarceration rates by 13.2 and 13.8 percentage points, respectively. (Davis, et al. 33) Their research also indicates that participating in a correctional education program, regardless of the type, is associated with reducing recidivism. It was not possible for the study to separate effects of different types of educational programs and they were not able to confirm that high school/GED programs have a lesser or greater effect on reducing recidivism than postsecondary education programs. (Davis, et al. 58)

Erisman, Wendy & Contardo, Jeanne Bayer. (November 2005). Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-state analysis of postsecondary correctional education policy. The Institute For Higher Education Policy. This report concentrates specifically on postsecondary correctional education. Their studies found that 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. (Erisman & Contardo v) Through suggestive data, the demographic profile

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

presented suggests that many prisoners have not experienced much opportunity for success prior to incarceration. (Erisman & Contardo 5) Due to the loss of Pell grant funding in 1994, the perception is that postsecondary educational opportunities have decreased. However, the data in this report shows that it is actually increasing. Although increasingly more common, the overall percentages are still small. While educational attainment varies significantly among prison systems, the results of this survey suggest that around 11 percent of the eligible prison population actually participated in postsecondary correctional education nationwide in 2003-2004. (Erisman & Contardo 16) Of course, having a high school or GED credential is necessary before enrolling in higher education programs, but there are other factors that affect why only 11 percent of the eligible are participating. Some of these factors were measured in the report: length of sentence, reason for incarceration, length of time until release, infractions committed while incarcerated. (Erisman & Contardo 18) This report also discusses academic versus vocational programming for prisoners. Do vocational programs offer the same benefits as traditional college courses? Research suggests that while vocational training programs such as apprenticeships reduce recidivism, they do so less effectively than traditional postsecondary education programs. (Erisman & Contardo 19) Majority of prisoners enrolled in postsecondary correctional education were taking vocational certificate programs whereas the rest were taking college classes, usually pursuing an associates degree. Only 3 percent of prisoners nationwide were enrolled in programs that would lead to either a bachelors or a graduate degree. (Erisman & Contardo 19) The report closes by discussing funding for prison education as well as barriers that exist. Their conclusion is that additional funding is needed on both the

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

federal and state level to increase access to higher education in prisons, which involves educating policymakers and the public. Fitch, Brian D. & Normore, Anthony H. (2012). Education-Based Incarceration and Recidivism: The Ultimate Social Justice Crime-Fighting Tool. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing, Inc. This book is a compilation of various different disciplines from a wide number of contributors within the field of correctional education. It classifies the purpose of education in prisons as a form of rehabilitation, intending to improve social order and public safety. It connects educational-based incarceration to social justice, where people have equal rights and opportunities, and uses education as the primary effective method of mitigating crime. Focusing on more than just recidivism and economic effects of correctional education, this book also discusses the right to formal schooling that all members of society are entitled to, as well as other often overlooked benefits. (Fitch & Delevi 11) After assessing needs and challenges of correctional education, it is concluded that a positive relationship exists between education based incarceration and recidivism rates. (Mattson, Esposito, Eggleston 54) This book also discusses the inmate identity as a student, separating gender difference in one section, race and ethnicity, as well as college inmate-students from others. While many college inmate-students have obtained GEDs while incarcerated, it was found that writing abilities vary significantly and the inmate-student will progress quite rapidly in both writing and discourse if he or she stays involved with the jail or prison postsecondary program. (Werner, Widestrom, Pues 74) It was also found that college inmates are not looked at favorably by prison staff who have not received postsecondary education and are

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

not supportive of prisoners receiving a free education. Other inmates may also have negative impressions of those in college programs in prisons. With 11 chapters of various literature review, studies, and discussions, this compilation of texts offers a thorough and comprehensive analysis for correctional education as means for a social justice crime-fighting tool. While acknowledging why the most common opposition for education programs in prisons is that criminals need to be punished and serve retribution for their crimes, these texts serve as an informative book as to reasons why this viewpoint does not usually serve its intended purpose, and in fact leaves prisoners likely to reoffend. Quality education within prisons, on the other hand, has consistently been demonstrated through research to be one of the most effective forms of crime prevention. (Normore, Fitch, Camp 203)

G.G. Gaes. (2008). The Impact of Prison Education Programs on Post Release Outcomes. Reentry Roundtable on Education This paper uses four meta-analyses to review the impact of correctional education on giving advantages to prisoners after their release, primarily recidivism rates for committing new crimes. Based on the four meta-analyses, one estimated the effect of postsecondary education on recidivism. This study showed that postsecondary training (whether vocational, academic, undergraduate, certificate and degree programs) effected recidivism. PSE participants recidivated 22 percent of the time. Non-participants recidivated 41 percent of the time. (Gaes 3) The other

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

studies included GED programs, cost-benefit analysis, and overall education program effects on recidivism. The conclusion was that different analysts could come to different conclusions. One point of view was that although there were some promising results from high quality studies, there are too many poorly designed and executed studies to come to definitive conclusions. The other view is that all studies point to the conclusion that correctional education reduces recidivism. (Gaes 11) Gaes supports the view that correctional education does in fact reduce recidivism, but does not have a way of estimating the true size of the effect. This paper also looks at employment and recidivism outcomes as well as correctional education, which offers a possibly mediating factor in returning to prison after release.

Gorgol, Laura E. & Sponsler, Brian A. (May 2011). Issue Brief: Unlocking Potential: Results of a National Survey of Postsecondary Education in State Prisons. Institute For Higher Education Policy. This publication addresses problems faced with postsecondary education in state prisons as well as some recommendations to tackle these problems. It includes both academic and vocational coursework beyond high school diploma/GED. Their research shows that 35 percent to 42 percent of correctional facilities offer some form of postsecondary education. (Gorgol & Sponsler 10) Their data is collected from a national survey of correctional education administrators from 43 states and an 86 percent response rate. Their findings included that 6 percent of the incarcerated were enrolled in postsecondary education programs in 2009-10, thirteen high-

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

enrollment states accounted for 86 percent of these enrollments, incarcerated students are not earning two- or four-year postsecondary degrees in significant numbers, postsecondary correctional education is usually delivered online, security protocols as well as securing funding were identified as huge barriers, as well as denial to financial aid programs. (Gorgol & Sponsler 3) The recommendations included revisions to federal and state regulations, collaboration with state and local education systems, and allowance of need-based financial aid. (Gorgol & Sponsler 16-19) The publication focuses significantly on policy and outlines the Higher Education Opportunity Act as well as the Second Chance Act that grants opportunities for education in prisons. Factors affecting

eligibility for postsecondary correctional education programs and breakdowns for various funding sources were also captured in this publication.

Grove, Jeffrey. (June 2011). Focus on Education for the Formerly Incarcerated. Southern Regional Education Board. This brief report highlights numerous studies that link education and recidivism, highlights barriers to education in prisons, and references re-entry programs in the Southern region states. Some of the studies that were examined included a 2008 study in North Carolina showing that having at least 12 years of education lowered the chance of being re-arrested, a 2003 study in Florida which found that a higher level of education was a major factor in lower recidivism rates, and a few others that led to the same conclusions. They also suggested that the barriers included prisoners low levels of education, competing demands such as

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

obtaining employment, housing, or overcoming addictions, as well as a lack of access to suitable education programs. (Grove 2) The report highlights North Carolina as being at the forefront of providing in-prison education through collaboration with D.O.C. and the states Community College System. (Grove 2) After discussing barriers pertaining to drug and crime related restrictions on state-level financial aid and re-entry programs that exist in the South, it is concluded that extending educational opportunities to those who are at some stage in the criminal justice system may help divert them from criminal behavior and into a more responsible, productive lifestyle. (Grove 6) While not only benefiting the incarcerated, it also reduces costs to society, but this reform will require assistance from policymakers.

Messemer, Jonathan E. (November 2011). The Historical Practice of Correctional Education in the United States: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(17), 91-100. Using historical literature review, this paper discusses the changes of correctional education programs from the 1700s up to present day. It defines the purpose of having correctional education and evaluates programs such as GED preparation as well as college programs. Messer found that a small majority of the states still offered college programs to some inmates in prison. (Messemer 96) He finds that recidivism rates were reported for a few college program studies and that the level of education attained was related to employment obtainment, recidivism rates. Taylor (1994) reported that between 1974 and 1979 the states of Alabama,

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

Maryland, and New Jersey found statistically significant differences between the rates of recidivism between the college participants and non-participants, in favor of college inmates. Taylor (1994) also suggested that one of the most comprehensive college prison studies was during 1967-1977 in New Mexico, whereby the college participants only had a 15.5% rate of recidivism in comparison to a 68% rate for the non-participants. (Messemer 96) Messemer found that colleges prefer at least a two year commitment from prisons before committing faculty/staff to teach and manage their programs. He also finds that inmates in education programs tend to be model citizens while in prison and this behavior tends to carry over upon release, decreasing rates of recidivism. (Messemer 97) Messemer suggests there is a strong need for further research in many areas within correctional education, especially with the female inmate population.

Conclusion Research and literature highly suggests that correctional education programs have positive effects on reducing recidivism rates, being cost-efficient and moneysaving, and benefiting both inmates and society as a whole in numerous ways. However, most studies thus far have been unable to separate the effects of receiving a high school diploma/GED in prison and postsecondary education programs. If studies actually do differentiate between the two, it is difficult to find much research specifically on higher education in prisons, since postsecondary includes both vocational certificate programs and 2 and 4 year college degree programs. Although majority of the prison population does not have a high school diploma/GED, let alone a college degree, we should not limit our focus to adult GED programs and neglect

10

Special Issues in Higher Education: Higher Education in the Prison System

the importance of offering higher education in the prison system. For many individuals, the difference between obtaining a GED and not is less of a determining factor for obtaining employment and straying away from criminal behaviors. However, it is in my belief that working towards a college degree has a much higher impact on chances of gaining employment, not re-offending upon release, and becoming productive members of society. The fact that only approximately 33% of prisons are noted to offer college classes is astonishing to me. Even more dumbfounding is the fact that most of these classes offered are not formalized or structured within the corrections system. In a place and time where the U.S. incarcerates more people than anywhere in the world, we should all question why more has not been done to address this issue by listening to what research has shown and by conducting further studies. Some highenrollment states have demonstrated successful higher education programs within prisons, and can serve as models for other states to duplicate. In conclusion, I assert that well-structured and formalized higher education programs should be instituted throughout all prisons after conducting further research on currently successful programs to demonstrate statistically significant evidence of the benefits of higher education in prisons. Much has yet to be done to improve education in prisons, but if changes are made and progress is demonstrated, the impact can be far and wide.

11