The problem with America’s prisons is that although they are called “correctional facilities”, prisons are really just a place where criminals are punished. This is reflected in America’s absurdly high recidivism rates: people released from state prisons have a five-year recidivism rate of 76.6 percent while those released from federal prison have a 44.7 percent rate.
So, how can America stop this cycle of people coming in and out of the prison system? One study suggests the best way is prison education.
According to the study, inmates who receive an education are 43% less likely to return to prison. On top of that, prison education saves money, improves chances of employment after release, and significantly reduces recidivism.
Sean Pica is a testament to the power of prison education. Having been put into prison in 1998 at the age of 16 for murder, Pica enrolled in a prison education program called Hudson Link. After graduating and getting a degree, Pica was released 4 years early and has now become the executive director of Hudson Link.
Research from Hudson Link speaks volumes to the power of prison education. It costs $60,000 to incarcerate an individual in New York State for one year, but only $5,000 for prison education. New York’s recidivism rate is 43%, while the rate for Hudson Link graduates is only 2%.
What this tells us is that if we truly want to ‘correct’ prisoners across America, the first thing we need to do is make education accessible to all prisoners. The statistics do not lie: with prison education, prisoners are far less likely to return to a life of crime.