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About Correctional Education

Correctional education is a fundamental component of rehabilitative programming offered in juvenile justice confinement facilities, most American prisons, and many jails and detention centers. Correctional populations are over-represented with individuals having below average levels of educational attainment. Education "behind bars" presents an opportunity for the incarcerated to prepare for success upon release. A wide variety of administering entities operate correctional institutions in the United States, and a wide variety of organizations are the providers of onsite prison education programs. Various federal education programs have supported education in State and local prisons; and in 1991, an Office of Correctional Education (OCE) was created by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, to coordinate and improve these efforts to support educational opportunities in correctional settings. The OCE function currently resides in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL). While OCE has a unique coordinating role for correctional education, other administrative units within the Department of Education support and oversee specific programs that are based in correctional facilities.

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Federal Grant Programs – Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities

In March 2013, The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice awarded three grants totaling $924,036 to adult education providers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas for innovative correctional education programs aimed at helping America’s inmate population make a smooth re-entry to society through education and workforce training. Projects on Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities (PRSCEO) was a one-time discretionary grant opportunity funded by the Second Chance Act, which is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a component within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice. PRESCO aimed to address the chronic issue of underemployment for ex-offenders and provide a more constructive use of time for those under community supervision; as well as create an education continuum for bridging the gap between prison and community-based education and training programs. At the heart of the (PRESCO) projects was the Reentry Education Model. Grant recipients listed below implemented the Reentry Education Model, including evidence-based approaches to support individuals leaving prison to successfully transition back into the community through schooling and career advancement.

  • Western Technical College
    La Crosse, Wisconsin
    Funding Amount: $291,864.
    Contact: Brian (Rande) Daykin,
    Email: daykinr@westerntc.edu

  • Lancaster-Lebanon,
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    Funding Amount: $272,032.
    Contact: Sandra Strunk,
    Email: sandy_strunk@iu13.org

  • Barton County Community College
    Great Bend, Kansas
    Funding Amount: $360,140
    Contact: Cathie Oshiro,
    Email: oshiroc@bartonccc.edudu

The implementation experiences of the three sites and key lessons learned for linking facility- and community-based education programs are documented in a report, Reentry Education Model Implementation Study: Promoting Reentry Success Through Continuity of Educational Opportunities. The report finds that strong partnerships among education providers and correctional facilities; a focus on transitions into and out of the correctional facility; and educational programs leading to career pathways are among the most important factors in enabling those previously incarcerated to continue their education and prepare for living-wage jobs.

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Contacts


      

National

  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • NDTAC— National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk

U.S. Department of Education

Office of Correctional Education
Attn: Christopher Coro
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington D.C. 20202
(202) 245-7717

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General Resources

The following links are to Web sites, papers and other resources that provide information about Correctional Education. disclaimerDisclaimer

Research on correctional education ensures that current practices are effective and new discoveries and technologies are implemented in correctional education. The following are papers that are helpful in understanding the need for correctional education. disclaimerDisclaimer

  • Educational Technology in Corrections Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2015
  • How Effective is Correctional Education and Where Do We Go From Here, The Rand Corporation, 2014. The document represents the final report of the federally funded RAND Study of Correctional Education.
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education, A Meta-Analysis of Programs that Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults, The Rand Corporation, 2013
  • A Reentry Education Model Supporting Education and Career Advancement for Low-Skill Individuals in Corrections download files PDF (667KB)
    Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2012
    This publication is a resource for practitioners and policy makers who wish to use education as a tool to support reentry success.
  • Community-based Correctional Education download files PDF (956KB)
    Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2011
  • Prison and Community College Partnerships download files PDF (925KB)
    Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2009.
  • Take Charge of Your Future, Get the Education and Training You Need download files PDF (4.8MB)
    The U.S. Department of Education, 2012 (Available in printed form at no cost from EDPubs, dial 1-8004ED-PUBS)
  • Locked Up and Locked Out: An Educational Perspective on the U.S. Prison Population download files PDF (638KB)
    Coley, R.J., and P.E. Barton. Policy Information Center Reports.
  • Learning to Reduce Recidivism: A 50-State Analysis of Postsecondary Correctional Education Policy download files PDF (499KB)
    Erisman, Wendy, and Jeanne Bayer Contrado. Institute for Higher Education Policy: Publications.
  • Literacy Behind Bars download files PDF (3.1MB)
    Greenberg, Elizabeth, Eric Dunleavy, and Kutner Mark. ERIC: Education Resources Information Center.
  • Utilizing Post-Release Outcome Information download files PDF (202KB)
    Lichtenberger, Eric, and Todd Ogle. Correctional Education Association.
  • Reentry Roundtable on Education, Urban Institute.
  • Three State Recidivism Study download files PDF (554KB)
    Steurer, Stephen J., Linda Smith, and Alice Tracy. Correctional Education Association. 22 Dec. 2008.
  • Education and Correctional Populations download files PDF (499KB)
    Wolf Harlow, Ph.D, Caroline. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. 22 Dec. 2008.
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FAQs and Contact Information


Q: Where can I get more information on education for prisoners after they are released?

A: "Take Charge of Your Future, Get the Education and Training You Need" is a useful guide for planning for post release educational program participation, and it is also a helpful reference for members of the correctional population on community status (on parole or probation or residing in a halfway house or other community corrections facility). download files PDF (4.8MB)


Q: Are correspondence courses allowed for incarcerated individuals?

A: Policies and systems regarding correspondence courses for incarcerated adults vary by state. To find out if correspondence courses are permitted in your state, contact your SCEA using the contact information posted on your state's Web site above. Some correspondence courses advertised for prisoners are scams and are very expensive. Make sure any courses that are used are provided by an accredited and reliable source.


Q: Where can I get more information on correctional education in federal prisons?

A: More information is available from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Prisons.


Q: Can the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated qualify for federal student financial aid?

A: Please consult the "Reentry Mythbuster" on federal student financial aid. This is one among several mythbusters on reentry topics.

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Last Modified: 07/17/2015