Corrections-based adult basic and secondary education

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.

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