Report: Prison Education Programs Could Save Money

By Allie Bidwell

Prison inmates who receive general education or vocational training are far less likely to return to prison and significantly more likely to find employment after their release, according to a new report from a nonprofit global policy think tank.  Image courtesy www.prisoneducation.com

Researchers at the RAND Corporation found through an analysis of past studies, released on Thursday, that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43 percent lower chance of returning to prison than those who do not. Additionally, if prisoners participated in academic or vocational education programs, their chances of employment after release were 13 percent higher than their peers.

"Our findings suggest that we no longer need to debate whether correctional education works," said lead researcher Lois Davis, in a statement.

Each year, about 700,000 people leave federal and state prisons and about half of them return to prison within three years, according to the Department of Justice. The report suggests that education programs can help lower the costs associated with returning to jail.

Educational programs cost about $1,400 to $1,744 per inmate each year, according to the report, and can save prisons between $8,700 and $9,700 per inmate, the costs associated with incarcerating them again. Put another way, each dollar spent on funding prison education programs reduces incarceration costs by $4 to $5 during the first three years after an individual is released, the period when those leaving prison are most likely to return.

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(First published by U.S. News & World Report)