The Impact of Prison Education Programs on Post-Release Outcomes

This paper reviews the evidence on the impact of correctional education programs on post-release outcomes.
Gerald Gaes
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Florida State University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type
This paper reviews the evidence on the impact of correctional education programs on post-release outcomes. Such reviews have been a popular enterprise in this research domain. There have been four meta-analyses, several “vote counting” reviews where analysts list studies that support or disconfirm the benefits of correctional education and then draw conclusions about the overall impact, and many other summaries of the research literature where the researchers select a few studies, cite their results, and draw inferences. The critical analysts, those that closely evaluate and assess the study methodology are much less sanguine about the relationship between correctional education and successful reentry than the more forgiving analysts who treat all of the research results in this literature on an equal footing. We believe the takeaway message is that correctional education does promote successful prisoner reentry. However, we only have an approximation of the true impact – the actual effect size. Even small effect sizes can produce substantial net cost-benefits especially for criminal justice costs that include adult corrections.
What the experts say

This resource offers a lot of information clearly and concisely. It lays out facts and dissects the data in a manageable and easy to follow way, and can be extremely valuable for back-up documentation, design methodology, and support of needed education programming for those designing and/or trying to improve a correction education program.

Resource Notice

This site includes links to information created by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user’s convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this non-ED information. The inclusion of these links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse views expressed, or products or services offered, on these non-ED sites.

Please note that privacy policies on non-ED sites may differ from ED’s privacy policy. When you visit, no personal information is collected unless you choose to provide that information to us. We do not give, share, sell, or transfer any personal information to a third party. We recommend that you read the privacy policy of non-ED websites that you visit. We invite you to read our privacy policy.