The United States currently incarcerates over 2.1 million persons at a cost exceeding $52 billion annually. This equates to 25 percent of the world's prisoners, even though the U.S. only has 5 percent of the world's population. Every year, around 600,000 prisoners are released from correctional custody and back into our communities. Between 70 and 85 percent of these released prisoners will recidivate within 5 years of release.
According to Christopher Zoukis -- founder of PrisonEducation.com and Prison Education News-- this recidivism rate can be slashed through educational programming. Zoukis asserts in his upcoming book, College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in America's Prisons (McFarland and Company, 2015), that prisoners who obtain an Associate's Degree recidivate at a rate of 13.7 percent, those who earn a Bachelor's Degree 5.6 percent, and those who earn a Master's Degree 0 percent. He calls prison education "the most cost-effective, proven method of reducing recidivism that the world currently knows of."
While some law-abiding American citizens might find the idea of educating prisoners as offensive to victims of crime, the team at PrisonEducation.com presents a strong refutation of this argument: while it costs upwards of $30,000 to $50,000 per year to incarcerate a single inmate, it only costs $2,000 to $3,782 to educate them at the college level. For less than a tenth of the cost to incarcerate, American correctional administrators could educate those under their charge. And this education could significantly reduce their rate of re-offense and re-arrest, which equates to reduced victimization and correction's costs.
To learn more about prison education's plethora of societal, economic, and correctional benefits, visit PrisonEducation.com, where the discussion continues every day with articles, videos, and research published by the world's leading correctional educators and researchers.