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Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-state analysis of postsecondary education policy Wendy Erisman Institute for Higher Education Policy Washington, DC. Part of Larger Research Agenda. To look at subgroups facing unique barriers to accessing higher education Disabled Students Foster Youth

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Learning to Reduce Recidivism:

A 50-state analysis of postsecondary education policy

Wendy Erisman

Institute for Higher Education Policy

Washington, DC


Part of larger research agenda
Part of Larger Research Agenda

  • To look at subgroups facing unique barriers to accessing higher education

    • Disabled Students

    • Foster Youth

    • Immigrant Students

    • Working Poor

    • Rural Students

    • LGBT Students


Prisoners in the u s
Prisoners in the U.S.

  • 1.5 million adults incarcerated in state and federal prisons as of December 2004

  • Prisoners are disproportionately:

    • Male

    • Racial/ethnic minorities

    • Impoverished

  • Group that has been poorly served by educational system



Why offer higher education to prisoners
Why Offer Higher Education to Prisoners?

  • Fewer disciplinary problems

  • Improved self-esteem and critical thinking

  • Can become role models for their children

  • Increased employment prospects

  • Reduced recidivism


Higher education and recidivism
Higher Education and Recidivism

  • More than half of released prisoners return to prison within 3 years

  • Studies show that taking college classes while in prison reduces recidivism by 46% on average

  • Reduced recidivism lowers incarceration costs

    • $30 billion annually as of 2001


Research questions
Research Questions

  • What is the current status of higher education in American prisons?

  • What barriers are preventing prisoners from gaining access to higher education?

  • What innovative efforts are helping prisoners gain access to higher education?


Methods
Methods

  • Quantitative

    • Survey of correctional education administrators

    • 45 states and Federal Bureau of Prisons responded

      • 90% response rate

  • Qualitative

    • Open-Ended Survey Question

    • Follow-Up Telephone Interviews

    • Review of Incarcerated Youth Offender Reports

    • Focus Group with Prisoners in Virginia


Status of higher education in american prisons 2003 04
Status of Higher Education in American Prisons 2003-04

  • 44 of 46 responding prison systems offered some higher education for inmates

  • At least 85,491 prisoners took college classes during 2003-04

    • 5% of total prison population

    • 11% of prisoners with GED or high school diploma

  • Similar to percentage enrolled prior to loss of Pell Grants in 1994


Uneven participation
Uneven Participation

  • 15 prison systems:

    • Incarcerated 66% of all prisoners

    • Enrolled 89% of inmate-students

    • Granted 96% of degrees and certificates

  • Key factor:

    • Strong institutional and state support for correctional education






Vocational education
Vocational Education

  • 62% of prisoners taking classes for college credit were enrolled in vocational programs

  • 92% of those who earned a credential in 2003-04 earned a vocational certificate





Funding sources
Funding Sources

  • Federal Incarcerated Youth Offender Grants (IYO)

  • State Appropriations

  • Inmate Self-Payment

  • State Grants for Low-Income Students

  • Scholarships/Donations



Barriers to access
Barriers to Access

  • Inadequate funding

    • IYO restrictions

      • Limited funds

      • Per student spending cap

      • Age limit

    • Lack of support from state officials

    • Inmate self-funding impractical


Barriers to access1
Barriers to Access

  • Poor academic preparation

  • Logistical problems

    • Security protocols

    • Remote locations

    • Difficulties hiring/retaining instructors

    • Prison overcrowding

  • Involuntary transfer of inmates


Barriers to access2
Barriers to Access

  • Structural/organizational barriers

    • Staff resentment

    • Obstructive policies

    • Competing priorities

  • Lack of public support


Innovative programs texas
Innovative ProgramsTexas

  • Legislature required that prisoners reimburse state for educational costs

  • Repayment after release

    • Payment plan negotiated with parole officer

    • Over $1.1 million repaid


Innovative programs minnesota
Innovative ProgramsMinnesota

  • Lost all state funding for academic higher education programs

  • Created private foundation to raise funds

    • Board includes Commissioner of Corrections and a community college president

  • Funds raised go to consortium of colleges that provide classes in state prisons


Innovative programs new mexico
Innovative ProgramsNew Mexico

  • Small prison system/large area

  • Web-based distance education via secure connection from single university to multiple prisons

    • All state prisons have computer labs and offer the same classes

    • Each prison also has a trained coordinator to assist inmate-students


Innovative programs north carolina
Innovative ProgramsNorth Carolina

  • High enrollments/high completions

  • Partnership between corrections and community college system

    • Shared costs

    • Steering committee meets regularly

  • Matrix based on length of average sentence determines which facilities offer which programs


Policy recommendations
Policy Recommendations

  • Additional funding is needed

    • Reinstate Pell Grants for inmates

    • Expand IYO program and raise age limit

    • Increase state appropriations

    • Ensure that state colleges and universities receive formula funding

    • Make inmates eligible for state grants

    • Seek additional private resources


Policy recommendations1
Policy Recommendations

  • State-level support is essential

    • Encourage close relationships among key state agencies

    • Build partnerships with colleges/universities

    • Develop supportive state/institutional policies

  • Policymakers and public need education

    • Publicize successful outcomes

    • Emphasize inmate accountability


Learning to Reduce Recidivism:

A 50-state analysis of postsecondary education policy

Funded by the Ford Foundation

Report available for download at

http://www.ihep.org


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