U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Post-Secondary Correctional Education and Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis of Research Conducted 1990-1999

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 55 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2004 Pages: 148-169
Date Published
June 2004
22 pages

This study was conducted to gather evidence as to whether or not higher education in prison is related to recidivism rates.


Meta-analysis was used in this study to synthesize research results from much of the available data on Post-Secondary Correctional Education’s (PSCE) relationship to recidivism. The individual studies used were published or reported between the years 1990 and 1999. Meta-analysis is particularly valuable for policy-oriented research, that which holds social, institutional, and organizational impact as its premise. It is a powerful and common approach to summarizing empirical research. The main reason the technique was used was to generate an overall correlation as to the existence of a relationship. The primary goal was to gather all possible studies using published articles, dissertations, and any unpublished research discovered through literature reviews and requests for information from the Correctional Education Association. The time frame includes anything published between 1990 and 1999. The first criterion was that the study include Post-Secondary Correctional Education and the second criterion was that recidivism rates of education participants were measured. Both correlation and quasi-experimental studies were collected, as sufficient equations were available to transform data into a single statistic. Due to the selection process only 15 studies were deemed appropriate for meta-analysis of post-secondary correctional education and recidivism for the 1990-1999 time frame. For the overall meta-analysis, inmates who participated in PSCE courses had a recidivism rate of 22 percent and those not participating in PSCE had a recidivism rate of 41 percent. This study found that more alternatives need to be provided for educating offenders. It may be beneficial to increase the role of the community colleges and educational partnerships with correctional institutions to benefit society as a whole. Tables, references

Date Published: June 1, 2004