The Impacts of College-in-Prison Participation on Safety and Employment in New York State
Posted in: News
Posted on November 17, 2023
The significant benefits of postsecondary education for the criminal legal system, public safety, and for people who are incarcerated—as well as their families and communities—have been thoroughly demonstrated in a large and growing body of research. This study is a midterm evaluation report of the College-in-Prison Reentry Initiative (CIP), a program to expand access to academic college education in prison throughout New York State. Funded by CJII, seven institutions of higher education received support under this initiative, including Bard College, Cornell University, Medaille College, Mercy College, Mohawk Valley Community College, New York University, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Jefferson. CJII also funded two entities as technical assistance providers: the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity and SUNY. This study covers the period from the start of the program in September 2017 until the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) acquired data for these analyses in September 2021. A final evaluation report will cover the period between the start of the program through June 2023.
The study found a strong, significant, and consistent effect of college participation on reducing new convictions following release. Participation in this form of postsecondary education reduced reconviction by at least 66 percent. This effect is larger than has been observed for postsecondary education in prison previously. Likely due to CIP program eligibility requirements, Vera was not able to find meaningful or statistically significant effects of college participation on misconducts at any level of severity or at any time period following college enrollment. Vera found mixed (and likely spurious) effects of college participation on formal employment and wages, with lower employment among students compared to nonstudents in the six months following release and no difference between six and 12 months after release, yet similar wages for students and nonstudents in the six months after release and lower wages among students six to 12 months after release.
See CUNY ISLG’s blog for a high-level overview of the findings.