The Impact of Prisoner Education on Recidivism, Labor Market Outcomes, and Public Assistance Utilization

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


This project will study how access to various forms of education within the prison system affects recidivism rates, labor market outcomes, and the use of public assistance programs by inmates once they are released. The research design is predicated on the following facts, determined in consultation with our partners:

a) The facility in which an individual is placed to serve their sentence, conditional on security risk and gender, is largely determined by space availability. Therefore, an inmate may be located and relocated across facilities in the state of Alabama that vary in terms of the educational programs offered.

b) Whether a facility offers education to its inmates and, if education is offered, what specific credentials and courses are offered is determined by space and physical requirements; a needs assessment based on statewide economic data, employer feedback, college advisory boards, and institutional stakeholders; the availability of financial resources; and the availability of instructors.

c) Prison wardens have full authority to dictate whether inmates are allowed to participate in education programs, and they vary considerably in how they determine which inmates can participate. The turnover rate of prison wardens is relatively high within the state as well.