Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

The Effect of Earning a GED on Recidivism Rates

Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

The Effect of Earning a GED on Recidivism Rates

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study presents data comparing recidivism rates of inmates who earned their GED (General Equivalency Diploma) while incarcerated in the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) with inmates who were released from the Department with no degree. Previous research has suggested that correctional education has a positive effect on recidivism rates of offenders. This study compares the recidivism rate of inmates who earned a GED while incarcerated with two other groups: 1) inmates who already had a high school diploma or GED upon their admission to the Department, and 2) inmates who failed to earn a GED while incarcerated. Additionally, this comparison is made for inmates who were under age 21 at the time of their release and for those who were 21 or older at the time of their release. The findings indicate that those inmates who earned a GED while incarcerated returned to custody within three years at a significantly lower rate than offenders who did not earn a GED while incarcerated. The relationship between GED attainment and return-to-custody is particularly strong among offenders who were under age 21 at release. C

Introduction

"The more assorted tools that we're able to provide our inmates before they are released from our custody, the greater their chances of becoming successful, law-abiding and productive members of society." Frank Headley, Deputy Commissioner, NYSDOCS (DOCS Today, April 2002, p. 10) This study was designed to address the question: "Does earning a High School Equivalency Diploma while incarcerated in DOCS reduce an offender's likelihood of returning to the Department's custody following release?" In particular, the Division of Program Services was interested in determining whether earning a GED while in DOCS had a different impact on offenders under age 21 at release compared with offenders age 21 and over. The present study examines the return-to-custody rates of a sample of offenders who earned a high school equivalency diploma while incarcerated in DOCS and two comparison groups of offenders who did not. The findings are presented for all offenders as well as separately for offenders under age 21 and offenders age 21 and older at the time of release.

Background

The Department's academic education program focuses on providing inmates with the attitudes, knowledge, skills and credentials needed to function as contributing adults, both while incarcerated and when released back into the community. The two primary goals for the education program are to ensure that every inmate who has the capability and leaves the system possesses a high school diploma or equivalency, and has the skills needed to obtain employment when released from custody. In order to accomplish these goals, the Department mandates education for all inmates until they reach the ninth grade level' in reading and math. Additionally, inmates are encouraged to prepare for the Test of General Education Development (GED) which leads to a high school equivalency diplomat.

The Department provides a range of academic education programs for inmates who do not possess a high school diploma, through day and evening classes as well as outreach programs. Programs provided by the Department include: Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs in English and Spanish, which focus on reading, writing, and math for inmates who function below the fifth grade level; Pre-GED classes in English and Spanish, which focus on reading, writing, and math for inmates who function between the fifth and ninth grade levels; GED classes in English and Spanish that prepare inmates who function at or above the ninth grade level for the GED examination; and Bilingual programs which provide ABE and GED instruction in Spanish as well as English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) for inmates with limited English proficiency.

Initial program placement is based on the standardized achievement tests administered during the reception/ classification process. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.