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US Prison Education without Building Blocks

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 13 April 2 2020

April 2020

In a study sponsored by Lumina, the American Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center conducted and published a study “Laying the Groundwork” on how states can improve access to continued education for people in the criminal justice system. There is solid evidence that lack of education is one of the key obstacles against successful re-integration after prison – education in prison correlates with a 43 % reduction in recidivism in the US. The report identifies four building blocks required to generate success in education for prisoners: *) Such education must be funded, *) it must be offered, *) the – often existing – formal obstacles must be removed, and *) there must be incentives and stimuli for prisoners to take part.

Based on surveys among the correctional agencies in 50 US states, the report shows that in 10 states, not one single block is in place, while there is not one single state that has all four blocks. Only two states – Minnesota and Maine – have three blocks out of four in place. Twelve states have two blocks and 26 have only one. The report shows in detail which states provide for which kind of building block and how they go about it. Interesting document for comparison: the UK Ministry of Justice report on “Preventing victims by changing lives” of 2018, also showing cost-effective reductions in recidivism and rises in employment for ex-convicts through education.

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