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Education and Its Effects on Recidivism

Matthew J. Conway, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Correctional education came from the belief that criminals lack the academic, vocational and social skills needed to be successful in society. Lacking these skills, individuals tam to crime in order to survive. By meeting the criminals basic education and social needs, we should be able to correct the criminal behavior by opening up employment and social opportunities which allow them to achieve these goals legally (Davidson, 1995). The second school of thought is that criminal acts are committed because criminals lack the cognitive and moral maturity needed to make proper decisions. Law abiding citizens have developed the ability to rationalize the cost of the punishment against the social cost of committing the crime. The goal of education is to develop cognitive thinking. By developing cognitive thinking, it is believed criminals will make socially normal and law abiding decisions. The philosophy of educating inmates to reduce recidivism has been in practice for more than a century. Since these early attempts at providing treatment programming to the inmate population, many programs throughout the world have been developed to better address the lack of education and cognitive skill development of criminals. In addition to expanding new treatment programs, many new correctional facilities throughout the United States have been built to accommodate the rising number of criminals. Many of these new correctional facilities have been built during the past decade. Today, more than ever, we are experiencing a rapid growth in our inmate population. We must begin to document what we are doing and report on its successes and failures. We are building institutions and implementing programs without all the necessary data to support what works. This dissertation will first review the findings of research conducted on various education treatment programs and the effects they had on individuals cognitive skills, employability and ability to maintain a normal crime-free life style. I will provide research analysis of data collected on inmates who participated in GED programming while incarcerated in Connecticut prisons from 1992–1996 and evaluate and report findings on the positive effect these programs had on recidivism.

Subject Area

Criminology|Adult education

Recommended Citation

Conway, Matthew J., "Education and Its Effects on Recidivism" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978487.