Education serves as a critical intervention strategy to empower incarcerated people to interrupt the devastating intergenerational cycles of unemployment, poverty, family violence, mental illness, drug addiction, and crime. Through our on-site education programs at San Quentin State Prison, we have learned directly from students how participation in our College Preparatory and AA Degree programs 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."
- Lerman, Amy E. "Best Practices for Evaluating Prison Higher Education" Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, 2018.
- Lerman, Amy E. and Jacob Grumbach. "The Prison University Project: Qualitative Evidence on the Impact of Prison Higher Education" University of California, Berkeley, 2016.
- Lerman, Amy E. "Prison University Project Program Evaluation Progress Report" Princeton University, 2012.