Education and Employment in Preventing Recidivism

Recidivism, which refers to the tendency to reoffend after being released from prison, is a significant problem that has plagued the criminal justice system for a long time. Unfortunately, many individuals who have served time in jail find it challenging to reintegrate into society and avoid falling back into criminal behavior. However, education and employment programs are crucial tools that can be utilized to prevent recidivism.

Education is an important component of preventing recidivism since a lack of education is one of the primary reasons why individuals reoffend. Those who do not have a high level of education and a criminal record often struggle to find regular employment. This can make it challenging for them to support themselves, which can lead to criminal behavior.

Several studies have shown that education programs are effective in reducing recidivism rates. One such study found that prisoners who participated in education initiatives were 43% less likely to reoffend than those who didn’t. Education programs can help individuals develop job skills, emotional and social intelligence, as well as cognitive abilities. All these components are crucial in reducing the likelihood of returning to criminal activities.

A program that has offered educational opportunities within prisons is the Second Chance Pell Grant program. This initiative is aimed at providing financial assistance to prisoners, allowing them to pursue vocational training or higher education degrees. With a collection of more than 1,000 higher education programs in prisons, the program has helped numerous prisoners to obtain degrees and build their lives.

On the other hand, employment opportunities are essential in preventing recidivism. Studies by the Bureau of Justice Statistics report that ex-offenders who secure jobs within a year of their release are less likely to reoffend than those who don’t. This is because the provision of consistent employment opportunities allows individuals who have served time to develop self-esteem, gain a sense of purpose, and feel productive. Additionally, the lack of employment opportunities is a major contributor to poverty and criminal behavior.

Job readiness programs in prisons are a useful way of providing individuals with the skills required to reenter into the workforce after being incarcerated. These programs often train inmates on essential job skills such as resume writing, interviewing, and job search techniques. Vocational training is also a critical element for people to cultivate specialized skills related to certain job opportunities.

Some ex-offenders who have benefited from education and employment programs have gone ahead to achieve significant success. For example, Jesse Anderson, a former inmate, founded his sock company, Sock of the Month Club, after his release. He credits securing employment shortly after his release as the key factor that made it possible for him to start his own business.

In conclusion, providing education and employment programs is a critical component of preventing recidivism. Education programs offer former inmates an opportunity to gain valuable job skills, emotional intelligence, social skills, and cognitive abilities. Employment opportunities, on the other hand, assist individuals in developing self-esteem and a sense of purpose, and it represents a pathway to self-sufficiency. These tools can change the narrative for ex-convicts, offer them a second chance to turn their lives around, and become valuable members of society. Therefore, investing in education and employment programs is a worthwhile investment for governments and society in general.


1. Petersilia, J. (2003). When prisoners come home: Parole and prisoner reentry. Oxford University Press.

2. Davis, L. M., Bozick, R., Steele, J. L., Saunders, J., & Miles, J. N. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of correctional education: A meta-analysis of programs that provide education to incarcerated adults. Rand Corporation.

3. Department of Education. (2018). Second Chance Pell.

4. Lattimore, P. K., Brumbaugh, S. G., & Kleykamp, M. A. (2018). Evaluating the impacts of prisoner reentry services on recidivism: Results from a multisite evaluation in three states. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 14(2), 211-246.

5. Kaeble, D., & Glaze, L. (2016). Correctional populations in the United States, 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

6. National Institute of Justice. (2014). Prison work and correctional industries.

7. Anderson, J. (2015). From prison to entrepreneurship: One man’s story of second chances. Forbes.

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