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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Prison education cuts reoffending

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This finding gives hope to the value of Mr Gove's review; if the quality and availability of prison education can be improved, it appears that there are large numbers of prisoners committed to making a positive change to their lives with education a keystone to that progress.

Justice Data Lab

This month’s (September 2015) Justice Data Lab (JDL) report provides a timely analysis of the education in prison funded by the Prisoners’ Education Trust, providing strong back-up to Michael Gove’s commitment to overhaul and improve the quality of education available to prisoners.

The Prisoners’ Education Trust does not deliver education in prison but provides funding to enable prisoners to undertake a wide range of learning. The work of the charity had previously been assessed by the JDL but the results were inconclusive, mainly because of the small cohort.

This time the JDL analysed a larger sample of nearly 6000 prisoner records, comparing them with matched comparison groups in order to assess the impact on reoffending.

The JDL analysis found that PET’s beneficiaries re-offended a quarter less than the control group (18% compared to 25% – a reduction of between 6 and 8 percentage points).

The JDL also broke down this analysis to look at the impact on different subgroups who applied for funding for different levels of awards. All groups of grant types were found to have lower one year proven reoffending rates than the control group as the table below shows:

JDL PET

 

Motivation is key

However, the report unearthed an even more interesting finding.

PET also provided researchers with a smaller sample of prisoners who had applied for the charity’s limited funding and had been turned down (typically because of limited funding). These prisoners also demonstrated a significant reduction in offending after prison, compared to matched control groups of similar prisoners who had not applied for help from PET.

These results suggest that prisoners who aspire to change their lives through education and pursue the process of putting an application together to PET are more successful in moving away from crime.

As PET point out, the importance of providing hope and aspiration for people in prison has also been highlighted in desistance research.

This finding gives hope to the value of Mr Gove’s review; if the quality and availability of prison education can be improved, it appears that there are large numbers of prisoners committed to making a positive change to their lives with education a cornerstone to that progress.

You can follow @PrisonersEd on Twitter to keep up with latest developments on their work and the Coates Review into Prison Education.

 

[Thanks to PET for allowing reproduction of the photo above, ©Rebecca Radmore and Prisoners’ Education Trust]

 

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One Response

  1. All this has been known for a quarter of a century. Straw put tens if not hundreds of millions into prison education. One has a nightmare feeling that every 5 years, our political process ensures we systematically forget the past 5 years knowledge and agree to start again, as though from perfect ignorance. Or perhaps it is perfect ignorance. Depressing!

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