Educating Inmates is Highly Cost Effective

At the recent Correctional Education Association conference in Arlington, VA, Dr. Lois Davis presented the findings of a meta study being published by the Rand Corporation, “How Effective Is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here?”  Dr. Davis and a team of fellow researchers comprehensively reviewed studies on educating incarcerated adults and juveniles.  In her presentation, Dr. Davis reported that the education of inmates resulted in reductions in recidivism by approximately 13% on average.

When asked about the cost efficacy of educating inmates, Dr. Davis reported that the analysis supports that for every dollar spent on education, federal and state correctional programs saved five dollars on the cost of incarcerating inmates, due to the reduction in recidivism.

The implications for our state prison systems are very clear.  Instead of cutting funding for education in prison, the states are far better off (400% return on investment) investing in education to improve long term budgets.  Since the Department of Corrections is often one of the single largest expenditures in state budgets, other than K-12 education, the long term savings to the state can be sizeable.  Tax payers should take this to heart.  For this reason, many conservative, budget-minded law makers are promoting improved education and other programs to prepare inmates for successful reentry to society, an initiative they call “smart justice.”

At New Century, we are happy to confirm our role in improving education, reducing recidivism and achieving the goals of Smart Justice.  In one large study reviewed by the Rand researchers, New Century was used 30-45 minutes per week with Juvenile Justice students in Avon Park Florida.  This study was highlighted in the report and by Dr. Davis in her presentation as one of only two quality studies demonstrating efficacy of an intervention with Juveniles.