Education empowers incarcerated people and interrupts devastating intergenerational cycles of unemployment, poverty, family violence, mental illness, drug addiction, and crime. Access to higher education in prison improves mental health, strengthens economic prospects, and significantly reduces one’s likelihood of being involved in crime and violence in the future.
The Prison University Project is committed to rigorous, data-driven evaluation as a means to ensure that our own work is effective, and to demonstrate the powerful impacts of prison higher education. In partnership with The Spencer Foundation and UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, we are participating in a longitudinal study to measure a full range of outcomes, including educational and professional outcomes, civic engagement, mental and physical health, family relationships and social-psychological mechanisms. The purpose of this study is to explain the effects of prison higher education on students both pre-and post-release, and expand our knowledge about exactly how education impacts the lives of incarcerated people. The researchers have just completed the baseline survey of the longitudinal study and are beginning to analyze the preliminary data.
For more information, please see The Spencer Foundation's summary of Professor Amy E. Lerman's study, "The Promise and Practice of Prison Education."
The following list contains additional academic scholarship on the Prison University Project.
The following list contains additional academic scholarship on higher education in prison.
Barton, Paul and R. Coley. “Locked Up and Locked Out: An Educational Perspective on the US Prison Population.” Educational Testing Service, Policy Evaluation and Research Center. Princeton, NJ. February 2006.
Fabelo, Tony. “Impact of Educational Achievement of Inmates in the Windham School District on Recidivism.” Criminal Justice Policy Council, State of Texas, August 2000.
Harer, Miles D., “Prison Education Program Participation and Recidivism: A Test of the Normalization Hypothesis,” Federal Bureau of Prisons, Office of Research and Evaluation, May 1995.
Kling, Jeffrey; Tyler, John. “Prison-Based Education and Re-Entry into the Mainstream Labor Market.” Brown University, National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, National Bureau of Economic Research. June 2006.
Lewen, Jody. "Prison Higher Education and Social Transformation." St. Louis University Public Law Review. Vol. XXXIII. 2014.
Petersilia, Joan. “Prisons Can Be Cages or Schools.” Los Angeles Times . October 16, 2005.
Steurer, S. J., Smith, L., & Tracy, A. “Education Reduces Crime: Three-State Recidivism Study.” Lanham, Maryland: Correctional Education Association, 2001.
Open Society Institute. “Education as Crime Prevention: Providing Education to Prisoners.”Occasional Paper Series, No. 2, September 1997.
Vacca, James S. “Educated Prisoners are Less Likely to Return to Prison.” Journal of Correctional Education. Vol. 55 Num. 4. December 2004.
Werth, Robert and Jennifer Mary Sumner. “Inside California’s Prisons and Beyond: A Snapshot of In-Prison and Re-Entry Programs.” Irvine, CA: Center for Evidence-Based Corrections, 2006.
Western, Bruce, V. Schiraldi and J. Ziedenberg. “Education and Incarceration.” Justice Policy Institute. 2003.