|EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF
THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
|A broad based multi-method research design was undertaken to document the impact of college within prison on women, the prison environment and women post-release. Three conclusions, with national implications, organize this report.
1. College-in-Prison Reduces Reincarceration Rates and Saves Taxpayer Money.
A cost/benefit analysis demonstrates that it is fiscally far more efficient to provide access to higher education for inmates than to incur the inflated rates of reincarceration and diminished employability likely to result from no access to higher education. A New York State Department Of Correctional Services study commissioned for this project tracked 274 women who attended college while in prison and compared them to 2,031 women who did not attend college while in prison. Women who attended college while in prison were significantly less likely to be reincarcerated (7.7%) than those who did not attend college while in prison (29.9%).25
2. College-in-Prison Enables Positive Management of the Prison Environment.
Interviews with prison administrators, corrections officers, women in prison, and college faculty confirm that the presence of a college program alters the prison environment by rendering it safer, more manageable and with fewer disciplinary incidents.
3. College-in-Prison Transforms the Lives of Students and their Children and Promotes Lasting Transitions Out of Prison.
Reduced reincarceration rates occur because involvement in college provides women in prison with skills, knowledge and healthier social networks necessary for successful transitions out of prison.
Changing Minds reveals the extraordinary personal, social and fiscal costs that all Americans pay today for not educating prisoners. This study offers national and local policymakers and activists a new policy direction that creates safer communities, reduces reincarceration rates, helps prisoners, their families and the prison environment.26