By David Nagel

Education programs in prison have a massive impact on recidivism. Based on a new meta-analysis, “inmates who participated in correctional education programs had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who did not.” The study also set out to find whether technology-led instruction among inmates could cut down on recidivism as well as teacher-led instruction. The results were positive.  Image courtesy

Among education program participants, recidivism was slightly lower for those who took computer-driven courses (either self-paced or used in combination with a teacher) than those who took teacher-led courses. Though the difference between the two wasn’t enough to be statistically significant given the size of the samples studied, as the researchers indicated, it does mean that computer-led instruction without a teacher is, in fact, at least as effective as instruction with a teacher for cutting back on repeat offenses.

Further, according to the report, “Because computer-assisted instruction can be self-paced and can be supervised by a tutor or an instructor, it is potentially less costly to administer than traditional instruction. It is worth noting that since the publication of [studies measuring the effectiveness of computer-led instruction], the capability and utility of instructional technology has progressed,… which suggests that the effects of the newer technologies may potentially outstrip those found in the studies examined here. The current positive (though not statistically significant) result, the potential cost-effectiveness of computer-assisted technology, and the fact that the technology is getting better suggest that its use in this context could be promising.”

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(First published by The Journal)

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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