Corrections-based adult basic and secondary education

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and provide assistance to unemployed workers. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Prison and jail-based educational programs that provide basic reading, writing, and math, followed by other secondary education, to inmates
  • Ultimately seek to prepare inmates for a GED and ease reentry
  • Aimed at individuals whose reading proficiency is below ninth grade or who lack a high school diploma or GED
  • Adult basic education classes for incarcerated adult offenders provide instruction in arithmetic, reading, writing, and English as a second language

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice


Target population

Formerly incarcerated individuals

Program cost

$1,400-$1,744 per person

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

1789-present

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced rates of recidivism
  • Increased likelihood of job placement following incarceration

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Strong partnerships with educational institutions and nonprofits are needed to provide high-quality instruction.
  • Class formats vary and may include mail correspondence, on-site or off-site instruction.
  • Computer-assisted instruction may accelerate mathematics and reading attainment levels.
  • Implementing a successful education program requires a strong focus on outcomes rather than inputs.

Similar programs

Resources