In terms of mass incarceration, the United States is, by far, the world leader among developed nations (Beckett et al., 2018; Blumstein, 2020; Dignam, 2016; Jouet, 2019; Wiseman, 2018). There are more than two million people locked up in state prisons, federal penitentiaries, and local jails throughout the United States (Looney & Turner, 2018; Sawyer & Wagner, 2018; Seabrook, 2019; Todd, 2019). The rate of incarceration for black men is well over five times that of white men (Carson, 2020; Dignam, 2016). Moreover, Incarceration in the United States is tied, in part, to demographic status, social disadvantage, and lack of education (Courtney, 2019; Gorgol & Sponsler, 2011; Morenoff & Harding, 2014; Oakford et al., 2019; Patterson, 2019; Simes, 2018; Tighe et al., 2019).
Many incarcerated persons enter prison without having the necessary skills and resources to participate successfully with mainstream society. Likewise, many, if not most, of these same people leave prison without the essential skills and resources for re-integrating into their communities (Gould et al., 2015; Morenoff & Harding, 2014). A large number of formerly incarcerated persons will return to prison as repeat offenders (Alper et al., 2018; Davis et al., 2013; Sawyer & Wagner, 2020). However, research has consistently shown that recidivism rates are significantly reduced among former inmates who participate in education programs, most notably higher education, during their confinement (Davis et al., 2013; Dignam, 2016; Inderbitzin, 2015; Simpson, 2019). Indeed, providing a college education to prison inmates has social and economic benefits.
For more information, please visit the inmate education resources on this website.
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