Educating Our Incarcerated Population Could Save States Millions
The idea of educating America’s large population of incarcerated citizens isn’t new, but it’s not an idea that taxpayers have traditionally embraced. New research, however, shows that investment in correctional education could have a huge payoff for state budgets.
The report, funded by Corrections to College California, finds a return of four to five dollars for every dollar invested in education for inmates, which could save millions through increased earning potential and reduced recidivism.
The findings, reported by Nadino Ono in CAFWD, show a clear path forward for states looking to increase revenue. And California has been leading the way—the Corrections to College California project has made impressive progress in the three years since its inception in 2014.
The state’s university system now includes Project Rebound, a support service for formerly incarcerated students, on nine campuses, and transferable college-courses are now offered in 34 of the 35 state prisons. Up to 4,500 prisoners are building up credits every semester, according to the program’s administrators.
So what’s next?
The report gives clear recommendations to states looking to mimic its success:
– Allow incarcerated individuals to have face-to-face college courses while in custody and count them as college students for budgetary considerations.
– Institute programs such as the California College Promise Grant, which covers tuition for low-income students including those who are or who have been in custody.
– Do not impose admissions barriers to colleges and universities for people who have been in the criminal justice system.
If more states sign on to provide higher education for our incarcerated population, we might be looking at a much brighter economic future.