U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

How Effective Is Correctional Education? The Results of a Meta-Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
3 pages
This research brief examines the effectiveness of correctional education programs.
This research brief from the Rand Corporation examines the effectiveness of correctional education programs. Key findings from the research include the following: correctional education programs reduce the risk of inmates returning to prison and may improve their chances of finding postrelease employment; cost-benefit analysis suggests that these programs can be cost-effective in terms of recidivism; and future research needs to examine which elements of these program increase their effectiveness. In order to develop a strong base of research on correctional education programs, four critical areas need to be considered: 1) applying stronger research designs, 2) measuring program dosage, 3) identifying program characteristics, and 4) examining more proximal indicators of program efficacy, such as changes in motivation, literacy gains, developing skills needed by local employers, and attaining academic degrees and industry-recognized certificates. Data for the current study were obtained from a comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies released between 1980 and 2011. Studies that focused on recidivism were the primary targets for inclusion in this research. A total of 50 studies on recidivism and 18 studies on employment were included in the meta-analysis. The findings from this research indicate that correctional education programs can be effective at reducing recidivism and improving employment outcomes for recently released inmates. Implications for future research are discussed.