Prison education programs are proven to reduce recidivism. Although as many as 67% of incarcerated persons are rearrested within three years of release, studies consistently show an overwhelmingly positive correlation between education access and likelihood of successful reentry. According to one Emory University study:
High-quality prison education programs not only reduce recidivism; they generate savings to taxpayers and contribute to the long-term wellbeing of communities most affected by over incarceration. As Barack Obama wrote in January 2017: “Studies have shown that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have significantly lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not, and that every dollar spent on prison education saves four to five dollars on the cost of reincarceration.”
The value of well-designed prison education initiatives is not limited to diploma- or degree-granting programs. Even standalone or upstart programs like the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop—which began with one instructor and ten incarcerated students—can combat social isolation and foster dialogue across social barriers. These environments improve individual self-esteem and social competence by giving incarcerated students a voice.