Formerly Incarcerated College Student Team Report

During this doctoral seminar, our class gathered information that will be helpful for the higher education faculty and staff community to know as they work with the Formerly Incarcerated College Student Population. What resulted was a monograph that details, through chapters, the key areas to understand when serving FICS. We provide access to our report here.


This information should be posted at the conclusion of our class in early May 2018!

Annotations of Relevant Articles

Throughout the course, we read many articles relevant to the FICS population and we have provided a copy of the readings that we annotated.

Abrams, L. S., & Franke, T. M. (2013). Postsecondary educational engagement among formerly-incarcerated transition-age young men. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 52(4), 233-253.

Anders, A., & Noblit, G. (2011). Understanding effective higher education programs in prisons: Considerations from the incarcerated individuals program in North Carolina. Journal of Correctional Education, 62(2), 77-93.

Bowman, S. W., & Travis Jr., R. (2012). Prisoner reentry and recidivism according to the formerly incarcerated and reentry service providers: A verbal behavior approach. Behavior Analyst Today, 13(3/4), 9–19.

Brower, R. (2015). Against all odds: From prison to graduate school. Journal of African American Males in Education, 6(1), 1-24.

Copenhaver, A., Edwards-Willey, T. L., & Byers, B. D. (2007). Journeys in social stigma: The lives of formerly incarcerated felons in higher education. Journal of Correctional Education, 58(3), 268–283. Retrieved from

Custer, B. D. (2013). Why college admissions policies for students with felony convictions are not working at one institution. College and University, 88(4), 28-36.

Custer, B. D. (2016). College admission policies for ex-Offender students: A literature review. Journal of Correctional Education, 67(2), 35-43.

Escobar, E. K., Jordan, T. R., & Lohrashbi, E. A. (2015). Redefining lives: Post-secondary education for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. The Vermont Connection, 34 (5), 32-41.

Halkovic, A., & Greene, A. C. (2015). Bearing stigma, carrying gifts: What colleges can learn from students with incarceration experience. The Urban Review, 47(4), 759-782.

Halkovic, A., Fine, M., Bae, J., Campbell, L., Evans, D., Gary, C., …Tejawi, A. (2013). Higher education and reentry: The gifts they bring. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry
Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Jeffers, A. R. (2017). Reflections of academic experiences from formerly incarcerated African American males. Equity & Excellence in Education, 50, 222-240. doi: 10.1080/10665684.2017.1301834

Le, A. (2016). Serving the sentence: Supporting formerly incarcerated students in higher education. Journal of Student Affairs, 12, 56-66.

Livingston, L., & Miller, J. (2014). Inequalities of race, class, and place and their impact on postincarceration higher education. Race and Justice, 4(30), 212-245. Retrieved from:

Madrigal-Garcia, Y. I., & Acevedo-Gil, N. (2016). The new juan crow in education: Revealing panoptic measures and inequitable resources that hinder Latina/o postsecondary pathways. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 15(2), 154-181. doi: 10.1177/1538192716629192

McTier Jr., T. S. (2015). Can you help me? What a mid-west land grant university is doing to help formerly incarcerated students in higher education. Education Administration: Theses, Dissertations, and Student Research. Retrieved from

McTier Jr., T. S., Santa-Ramirez, S., McGuire, K. M. (2017). A prison to school pipeline: College students with criminal records and their transitions into higher education. Journal of Underrepresented and Minority Progress, 1(1) 8-22.

Miller, B., Mondesir, J., Stater, T., & Schwartz, J. (2014). Returning to school after incarceration: Policy, prisoners, and the classroom. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 144, 69-77. doi:10.1002/ace.20115

Owens, C. D. (2009). Social symbols, stigma, and the labor market experiences of former prisoners. Journal of Correctional Education, 4, 316-342.

Pinto, R., Rahman, R., & Williams, A. (2014). Policy advocacy and leadership training for formerly incarcerated women: An empowerment evaluation of reconnect, a program of the women in prison project, correctional association of New York. Evaluation and Program Planning, 47, 71-81.

Potts, K. S., & Palmer, L. B. (2014). Voices of parolees attending community college: Helping individuals and society. Community College Review, 42(4), 267-282.

Riggs, R. (2012). Higher education and incarceration in the United States: The intersection of institutions. New York, NY: Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Retrieved from

Rose, L. H. (2015). Community college students with criminal justice histories and human services education: Glass ceiling, brick wall, or a pathway to success. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 39(6), 584-587. doi: 10.1080/10668926.2014.926261

Runell, L. L. (2017). Identifying desistance pathways in a higher education program for formerly incarcerated individuals. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(8), 894–918.

Smith, C. V. (2017). Imprisoned in the hood: An examination of social ecology influenced bymass in car ceration and its effects on low income college student stress levels (Undergraduate research). Retrieved from La Salle University Digital Commons (16).

Strayhorn, T. L., Johnson, R. M., & Barrett, B. A. (2013). Investigating the college adjustment and transition experiences of formerly incarcerated Black Male collegians at predominately white institutions. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, 2(1), 73-98.

Tewksbury, R., Erickson, D. J., & Taylor, J. M. (2000). Opportunities lost: The consequences of eliminating pell grant eligibility for correctional education students. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 31, 43-56.

Torre, M. E. & Fine, M. (2015). Bar none: Extending Affirmative Action to higher education in prison. Journal of Social Issues, 61(3), 569-594.

Other Relevant Articles

Here we provide you with a continued list of recommended articles and references we read that are relevant to the FICS population. The citations are provided along with an abstract/summary. You can also find the full bibliography  by clicking the button below:
Adams, K., Bennett, K. J., Flanagan, T. J., Marquart, J. W., Cuvelier, S. J., Fritsch, E., ... & Burton Jr, V. S. (1994). A large-scale multidimensional test of the effect of prison education programs on offenders' behavior. The Prison Journal, 74, 433-449.
Abstract: This study examined the prison behavior and post release recidivism of more than 14,000 inmates released from Texas prisons in 1991 and 1992. Comparisons were made between participants and nonparticipants in prison education programs on a variety of behavioral outcomes. The findings suggest that these programs may be most effective when intensive efforts are focused on the most educationally disadvantaged prisoners. Implications for correctional education policy and correctional program research are discussed.
Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York, NY: The New Press.
Overview: As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness (From
Austin, J., Hardyman, P. L., & Irwin, J. (2002). Exploring the needs and risks of the returning prisoner population. Urban Institute.
Much has and continues to be written and discussed on the topic of released prisoners. Finally, after three decades of unrelenting efforts by federal and state policymakers to incarcerate record numbers of men, women and children, there is new concern about the consequences of America’s imprisonment binge on those incarcerated, their families and children, and the communities from whence they came. Several states are reconsidering the wisdom of their incarceration trends and are pursuing new strategies to start reducing their prison populations. But in order for prison populations to be lowered, policymakers and the public must be assured that such actions are safe and will not compromise the public’s safety. With these concerns in mind, we have drafted a paper that has the following several objectives. First, it is intended to provide a general discussion on the concepts of risk, needs and stability at both the prisoner and community levels. We then draw our attention to the unique situation faced by prisoners with children and the obstacles that must be overcome to maintain any type of parental relationship while incarcerated and after release. In particular, we focus on the plight of the growing number of prisoners serving lengthy prison terms (lifers). We close with some suggestions (both practical and utopian) about what reforms (legislative and programmatic) are needed to address these systemic conditions (both at the prisoner and community levels) that serve to worsen the imprisoned mother and father’s ability to succeed once released.
Blackstone Career Institute (2018). History. Retrieved from
“Blackstone Career Institute is privately licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), Washington, D.C and regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools. These regulations are your assurance that Blackstone offers first-rate quality programs and instruction. Our mission statement reflects our dedication to offering outstanding career education.”
Bonczar, T. P. (2003). Prevalence of imprisonment in the US population, 1974–2001. U.S Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved January 2, 2016 from:
This is a document produced by the U.S. Department of Justice that reviews the breakdown of the imprisonment population. It is helpful for demographic breakdowns of the prison population.
Boise State University. (ND). On-campus housing criminal background investigation process. Retrieved from
This is the Boise State University website that speaks specifically about their process for those with a criminal history who wish to apply to live on campus.
Brame, R., Bushway S. D., Paternoster R., & Turner, M. G. (2014). Demographic patterns of cumulative arrest prevalence by ages 18 and 23. Crime & Delinquency, 60(1), 471–86.
Abstract: In this study, we examine race, sex, and self-reported arrest histories (excluding arrests for minor traffic violations) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97; N = 7,335) for the period 1997 through 2008 covering cumulative arrest histories through ages 18 and 23. The analysis produces three key findings: (a) males have higher cumulative prevalence of arrest than females and (b) there are important race differences in the probability of arrest for males but not for females. Assuming that the missing cases are missing at random (MAR), about 30% of Black males have experienced at least one arrest by age 18 (vs. about 22% for White males); by age 23 about 49% of Black males have been arrested (vs. about 38% for White males). Earlier research using the NLSY97 showed that the risk of arrest by age 23 was 30%, with nonresponse bounds [25.3%, 41.4%]. This study indicates that the risk of arrest is not evenly distributed across the population. Future research should focus on the identification and management of collateral risks that often accompany arrest experiences.
Bromley, M. L., (1995). Factors associated with college crimes: Implications for campus police. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 10(3), 13–19.

Abstract: A considerable amount of attention is now being paid to the serious nature of campus crime. However, little information is available with regard to those factors that might be closely associated with such incidents. This paper discusses security features and demographic characteristics of a select number of colleges throughout the country. It also describes the extent to which these factors are related to campus crimes. Conclusions and recommendations for campus police officials are discussed.

Carson, A. E. (2014). Prisoners in 2013 (Bulletin NCJ 247282). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics
This is a bulletin report by the U.S. Department of Justice that reviews the statistics on the U.S. prison population.
Castro, E. L., Brawn, M., Graves, D. E., Mayorga, O., Page, J., & Slater, A. (2015). Higher education in an era of mass incarceration: Possibility under constraint. Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs, 1(1), 13-33.
Abstract: In this essay, we explore the purposes of higher education in prison during an era of mass incarceration and contend that the potential of postsecondary educational opportunity in carceral spaces is undermined by a single-minded focus on reducing recidivism. Among the over 2.2 million individuals behind bars in the United States, only 6 percent have access to formal postsecondary educational opportunities, and as a result, most incarcerated students are not on an educational pathway likely to result in academic degree attainment. We must move beyond a recidivist paradigm not because certificate-based and vocational training is not valuable, but because it is simply not enough of what college-in-prison programming can be or do. Drawing upon the experiences of higher education students who are incarcerated, our analysis reveals how even well-intended practices in prison spaces pose obstacles to seeing incarcerated individuals as potential postsecondary students and degree completers.
Center for Community Alternatives, Education from the Inside Out Coalition. (March 2015). Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition. Retrieved from
With this study and report we build upon what was revealed in our 2010 study, The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered. The Reconsidered study illuminated that a growing number of colleges and universities are asking about criminal history information during the application process: two-thirds of the colleges and universities we surveyed reported that they do so. Yet, as we discussed in the Reconsidered study, there is no empirical evidence to indicate that criminal history screening makes college campuses any safer.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241 (1964). Retrieved from:
An employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Cooke, C. (2004). Joblessness and homelessness as precursors of health problems in formerly incarcerated African American men. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 36(2), 155-160.
Abstract: This article reviews the current trends and impact of mass incarceration on communities of color, with a focus on criminal justice policy and practice contributors to racial disparity. The impact of these disproportionate incarceration rates on public safety, offenders, and communities are discussed. Recommendations for criminal justice and other policy reforms to reduce unwarranted racial disparities are offered.
Crocker, J., Voelkl, K., Testa, M., & Major, B. (1991). Social stigma: The affective consequences of attributional ambiguity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(2), 218-228. Retrieved from
Abstract: Two experiments investigated the hypothesis that the stigmatized can protect their self-esteem by attributing negative feedback to prejudice. Fifty-nine women participated in the 1st experiment. Women who received negative feedback from a prejudiced evaluator attributed the feedback to his prejudice and reported less depressed affect than women who received negative feedback from a nonprejudiced evaluator. In the 2nd experiment, 38 Black and 45 White students received interpersonal feedback from a White evaluator, who either could see them or could not. Compared with Whites, Blacks were more likely to attribute negative feedback to prejudice than positive feedback and were more likely to attribute both types of feedback to prejudice when they could be seen by the other student. Being seen by the evaluator buffered the self-esteem of Blacks from negative feedback but hurt the self-esteem of Blacks who received positive feedback.
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.
Abstract: After conducting a comprehensive literature search, the authors undertook a meta-analysis to examine the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism, improvements in employment after release from prison, and other outcomes. The study finds that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces inmates’ risk of recidivating and may improve their odds of obtaining employment after release from prison.
Dickerson, D. (2008). Background checks in the university admissions process: An overview of legal and policy considerations. Journal of College and University Law, (2), 419.
Introduction: In the time since the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the primary question for college and university administrators, faculty, and students has been how to keep our campuses safe. One debate is whether colleges and universities should require criminal background checks on prospective students. Although this issue presents a virtual jigsaw puzzle of legal and policy considerations, the crux of the debate is illustrated by the popular positions of S. Dan Carter, Senior Vice President of Security on Campus, Inc., and Barmak Nassirian, Associate Executive Director, External Relations of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Dumont, D., Brockmann, B., Dickman, S., Alexander, N., & Rich, J. (2012). Public health and the epidemic of incarceration. Annual Review of Public Health, 33, 325-339. Retrieved from
Abstract: An unprecedented number of Americans have been incarcerated in the past generation. In addition, arrests are concentrated in low-income, predominantly nonwhite communities where people are more likely to be medically underserved. As a result, rates of physical and mental illnesses are far higher among prison and jail inmates than among the general public. We review the health profiles of the incarcerated; health care in correctional facilities; and incarceration’s repercussions for public health in the communities to which inmates return upon release. The review concludes with recommendations that public health and medical practitioners capitalize on the public health opportunities provided by correctional settings to reach medically underserved communities, while simultaneously advocating for fundamental system change to reduce unnecessary incarceration.
Duwe, G. (2017). U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. The use and impact of correctional programming for inmates on pre- and post-release outcomes. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from
Introduction: This paper reviews the available evidence on the impact of institutional programming on pre- and post-release outcomes for prisoners. Given the wide variety of institutional interventions provided to inmates in state and federal prisons, this paper focuses on programming that: (1) is known to be provided to prisoners, (2) has been evaluated, and 3) addresses the main criminogenic needs, or dynamic risk factors, that existing research has identified. This paper, therefore, examines the empirical evidence on educational programming, employment programming, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), chemical dependency (CD) and sex offender treatment, social support programming, mental health interventions, domestic violence programming, and prisoner re-entry programs. In addition to reviewing the evidence on the effects of these interventions on pre- and post-release outcomes, this paper identifies several broad conclusions that can be drawn about the effectiveness of institutional programming, discusses gaps in the literature, and proposes a number of directions for future research.
Guerino, Paul, Paige M. Harrison, and William J. Sabol. (2011) 2012 revised. Prisoners in 2010. NCJ 236096. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Accessed April 10, 2012, from
On December 31, 2010, state and federal correctional authorities had jurisdiction over 1,612,395 prisoners, a decrease of 5,575 prisoners from yearend 2009 (figure 1). The combined U.S. prison population decreased 0.3% in 2010, the first decline since 1972. The 2010 imprisonment rate for the nation was 500 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents, which is 1 in 200 residents. The statistics in this report are drawn from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) series, which annually collects data on prisoner counts and characteristics, as well as admissions, releases, and capacity, from the 50 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The 2010 NPS collection is the 85th in a series begun in 1925.
Fazel S., Baillargeon J. (2011). The health of prisoners. The Lancet, 377(9769), 956 – 965.
Summary: More than 10 million people are incarcerated worldwide; this number has increased by about a million in the past decade. Mental disorders and infectious diseases are more common in prisoners than in the general population. High rates of suicide within prison and increased mortality from all causes on release have been documented in many countries. The contribution of prisons to illness is unknown, although shortcomings in treatment and aftercare provision contribute to adverse outcomes. Research has highlighted that women, prisoners aged 55 years and older, and juveniles present with higher rates of many disorders than do other prisoners. The contribution of initiatives to improve the health of prisoners by reducing the burden of infectious and chronic diseases, suicide, other causes of premature mortality and violence, and counteracting the cycle of reoffending should be further examined.
Federal Student Aid an Office of the U.S. Department of Education (ND). Students with criminal convictions have limited eligibility for federal student aid. Retrieved from
This is a website resource provided by the Office of Federal Student Aid.
Gardner, C. (1991). Stigma and the public self: Notes on communications, self, and others. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 20(3), 331-351.
Abstract: In addition to suggesting several ways in which Goffman’s work on stigma has been adapted to current problems in the sociology of difference, this article suggests some particular intersections of the sociology of stigma with the sociology of public places. The article is based on several sets of interviews with individuals who come under Goffman’s definition of stigmatized, namely, African Americans, people with disabilities, and gay and lesbian citizens. Through interviews centered on public places in general, four areas in particular are singled out and argued to be of importance, as much for what they have to say about the taken-for-granted character of our rights and privileges in public as for what they have to say about how members of stigmatized groups may be treated. These areas are access, membership, debuts, and communication.
Goff, A., Rose, E., Rose, S., & Purves, D. (2007). Does PTSD occur in sentenced prison populations? A systematic literature review. Criminal Behavior & Mental Health, 17(3), 152-162.
Abstract: Background A systematic review of the literature on mental disorder in prisoners, published in 2002, made no mention of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but indicators from other studies suggest that a history of serious and chronic trauma is common among offenders. Aims To conduct a systematic review of the literature with the specific questions: does any epidemiological study of sentenced prisoners include data on prevalence of PTSD while in prison? If so, what is the prevalence in this group? Method Literature databases EMBASE, Medline, PsychInfo, PILOTS and SIGLE were searched. The Journal of Traumatic Stress was searched manually. Preliminary screening was conducted by reading abstracts of hundreds of papers. Ten exclusion criteria were then applied to the screened selection. Reference sections of all accessed papers were searched for any further studies. Results One hundred and three potentially relevant papers were identified after preliminary screening. Four met all criteria for inclusion and suffered none of the exclusion criteria. PTSD rates ranged from 4% of the sample to 21%. Women were disproportionately affected. Conclusions and implications for practice All four papers suggested that the prevalence of PTSD among sentenced prisoners is higher than that in the general population, as reported elsewhere. Overall the findings suggest a likely need for PTSD treatment services for sentenced prisoners.
Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Summary: Stigma is an illuminating excursion into the situation of persons who are unable to conform to standards that society calls normal. Disqualified from full social acceptance, they are stigmatized individuals. Physically deformed people, ex-mental patients, drug addicts, prostitutes, or those ostracized for other reasons must constantly strive to adjust to their precarious social identities. Their image of themselves must daily confront and be affronted by the image which others reflect to them. Drawing extensively on autobiographies and case studies, sociologist Erving Goffman analyzes the stigmatized person’s feelings about himself and his relationship to “normals” He explores the variety of strategies stigmatized individuals employ to deal with the rejection of others, and the complex sorts of information about themselves they project. In Stigma the interplay of alternatives the stigmatized individual must face every day is brilliantly examined by one of America’s leading social analysts.
Hall, L. L. (2015). Correctional education and recidivism: Toward a tool for reduction. The Journal of Correctional Education, 66(2), 4-29.

Abstract: Vast arrays of research have evaluated recidivism through a limited scope, analyzing various factors independently. This study endeavors to execute a systematic review of factors attributed to recidivism in order to focus the research trajectory toward the most promising recidivism reduction tool. Various risk factors of recidivism have been identified; however few can be utilized as a tool in reduction. Of those tools, research indicates that correctional education programming appears to offer the greatest reduction outcome. The importance of this research is established by reorganizing the major research findings on correctional education programs from 1995 to 2010 in order to show the impact of education on recidivism. To accomplish this goal, a typology of the research is created to delineate the factor that is most promising in reducing recidivism, correctional education. Specifically, an analysis of 10 empirical studies is performed in order to understand the impact of correctional education programming on recidivism. Findings reveal conclusiveness about educational programming as a reduction tool for recidivism.

Halkovic, A. (2014). Redefinig possible: Re-visioning the prison-to-college pipeline. Equity & Excellence in Education, 47(4), 494-512.
Abstract: This article identifies college as the logical space for the articulation of civil rights through the complete integration of students with incarceration histories into the intellectual and social fabric of the institution. Academic institutions provide a fertile ground where possibilities for personal and social change are realized, networks are opened, knowledge is contributed and developed, and giving back is enabled. Using interview and focus group data collected from The Gifts They Bring, a participatory action research (PAR) project conducted with and for college students with incarceration histories, I analyze experiences of personal transformation through higher education, identifying the theme of possibility. I conclude with recommendations for creating a more inclusive environment in institutions of higher education for people who have been incarcerated and want to make a positive change in their lives.
Harer, M. D. (1995). Recidivism among federal prisoners released in 1987. Journal of Correctional Education, 46(3), 98-128.
Abstract: In line with these past and ongoing recidivism studies, the current study will update our understanding of recidivism among Federal prison releasees by examining the association between pre-prison, prison, and post-release characteristics and experience and recidivism rates; revalidating the U.S. Parole Commission’s Salient Factor Score and the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Criminal History Score; an effectiveness of several BOP policies, operations, and programs aimed at reducing recidivism.
Harlow, C. W. (revised 2003). Education and correctional populations (Bulletin NCJ 195670). Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from
This bulletin from the Bureau of Justice Statistics highlights statistics of the prison population as it relates to their education characteristics.
Hartney, C. & Vuong, L, 2009. The price of prisons: What incarceration costs taxpayers. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, Center on Sentencing and Corrections.
Overview: State corrections budgets have nearly quadrupled in the past two decades—yet the true taxpayer cost of prison reaches far beyond these numbers. State corrections budgets often fail to reflect certain costs— such as employee benefits, capital costs, in-prison education services, or hospital care for inmates—covered by other government agencies. In partnership with the Pew Center on the States, Vera developed a tool to calculate these costs and create a more holistic view of what taxpayers are paying to maintain these systems. While overlooked costs can vary from state to state, Vera’s survey of 40 states found that prison costs were in reality 13.9 percent higher than those states’ combined corrections budgets. This report explores those findings, and our calculation tool, while offering a breakdown of per-inmate costs in each state. It also offers recommendations for reducing these costs without jeopardizing public safety.
Holzer, H.J., Raphael, S., & Stoll, M.A. (2002). Can employers play a more positive role in prisoner reentry? The Urban Institute. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from .
Introduction: Over 600,000 prisoners are now being released annually, and the total number of ex-prisoners currently in the population is estimated to be 3 million or higher (Uggen, Thompson, and Manza 2001). Of the many challenges that these (mostly) men face, those posed by reentry into the labor market may be among the most severe. One of the major causes of these difficulties in the labor market is the aversion that most employers have toward hiring ex-offenders. How severe is this aversion? What are its causes? Are employer attitudes and hiring behavior amenable to change under various circumstances, such as tight labor markets, or in response to activities by community agencies or other institutions?
James, D. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates: Bureau of Justice Statistics special report (Bulletin NJC 213600). U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved from
This bulletin from the Bureau of Justice Statistics highlights statistics of the prison population as it relates to their mental health characteristics.
Livingston, L., Miller, J. (2014). Inequalities of race, class, and place and their impact on postincarceration higher education. Race and Justice, 4(30), 212-245.

Abstract: Postsecondary correctional education (PSCE) is witnessing a revitalization, offering the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated an important source of human and social capital. Yet, opportunities for higher education among this population are patterned by larger structural exclusions based on race, class, and place. In this article, we investigate the impact of race and class inequalities among students in a program for formerly incarcerated individuals at a large state university. Specifically, we draw from 34 in-depth interviews with past and present program participants to examine how pre- and postcarceral financial, familial, community, and social network contexts shape postsecondary experiences after incarceration. Research participants came from community contexts with vastly different resources, with consequences for social identities, educational preparedness, and embeddedness in crime preincarceration. These circumstances differentially prepared students for university studies postrelease. In addition, during the postcarceral period, study participants had disparate access to familial supports, were unequally burdened by financial difficulties and familial responsibilities, and differentially exposed to risks for reoffending. These patterns were closely tied to race, social class, and neighborhood characteristics. Our work highlights the import of attention to such disparities for PSCE, to facilitate its equitable access among incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations.

Mauer, M. (2011). Addressing racial disparities in incarceration. The Prison Journal Supplement, 91(3), 87-101.
Abstract: This article reviews the current trends and impact of mass incarceration on communities of color, with a focus on criminal justice policy and practice contributors to racial disparity. The impact of these disproportionate incarceration rates on public safety, offenders, and communities are discussed. Recommendations for criminal justice and other policy reforms to reduce unwarranted racial disparities are offered.
Mancillas, L. K. (2018). Presidents and mass incarceration: Choices at the top, repercussions at the bottom. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Overview: Taking a new and innovative approach to the subject, this book looks at how U.S. presidents and their administrations’ policies from the late 1960s to 2017 have led to rampant over-imprisonment and a public policy catastrophe in the United States (From
Miller, B., Mondersier, J., Sater, T., & Schwartz, J. (2014). Returning to school after incarceration: Policy, prisoners, and the classroom. New Direction for Adult and Continuing Education, 144, 69-77.
This chapter addresses the challenges facing men of color who return to adult education after incarceration. It frames their experience as a war from a sociopolitical and cultural context, and then explains the support men need to succeed both in and outside the classroom.
Mukamal, D., Silbert, R., & Taylor, R. M. (2015). Degrees of freedom: Expanding college opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated Californians. Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy. Retrieved from
This report is part of a larger initiative – Renewing Communities – to expand college opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated students in California. Nicole Lindahl was a contributing author; Nicole Lindahl and Laura Van Tassel also provided research assistance for this report. The research and publication of this report has been supported by the Ford Foundation. The authors thank Douglas Wood of the Ford Foundation for his vision and leadership which catapulted this report.
Neyfakh, L. (2015, January 28). Do the Crime, Get a Degree. Should Prisons Offer College Courses to Convicted Felons? Retrieved from
This web article presents the arguments on the importance of prison education. Introductory Paragraph: This past Saturday, 53 inmates at Eastern Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, were awarded college diplomas as part of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that enables convicted felons to take courses and earn degrees while incarcerated. Among the graduates were newly minted experts in advanced math, literature, and social studies who had written senior papers with titles like “The Artistic Excursions of Thomas Hardy” and “Combinatorial Game Symmetry: Encountering the Odd Multiple of K.” As they walked across the stage in the prison auditorium, their olive-green uniforms concealed under flowing robes, family members and friends cheered from their seats. Guards assigned to monitor the event stood by chewing gum and listening to their burbling walkie-talkies.
NJ-STEP Mountainview Community of New Brunswick. (2018). Retrieved from
Program Description: The NJ-STEP Mountainview Community-NB is one of three unique pieces within the NJ-STEP educational pipeline (In addition to the Newark and Camden Communities). The Mountainview Community of NB identifies, recruits and supports accomplished students from the NJ-STEP student body who seek admission to Rutgers University on the New Brunswick Campus.  Once recruited and admitted to Rutgers- NB, we offer on-going, dynamic support and guidance in earning a Rutgers degree while managing the reentry process.
NJ-STEP. (n.d.). NJ-STEP. Retrieved from
Program Description: The New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) is an association of higher education institutions in New Jersey that works in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and State Parole Board, to (a) provide higher education courses for all students under the custody of the State of New Jersey while they are incarcerated, and (b) assist in the transition to college life upon their release into the community. Our vision is that every person in prison who qualifies for college have the opportunity to take college classes while incarcerated and continue that education upon release.
Page, J. (2004). Eliminating the enemy: The import of denying prisoners access to higher education in Clinton's America. Punishment & Society, 6, 357–378.
Abstract: This article investigates why Congress passed legislation in 1994 that denied Pell Grants – the primary source of funding for postsecondary correctional education (PSCE) – to prisoners, despite evidence that PSCE helped reduce recidivism and bolster carceral order. Analysis of the congressional debates and relevant media texts shows that lawmakers, in concert with the popular media, produced a legislative penal drama in which they spoke to key audiences’ – particularly white, working and middle-class voters’ – mistrust of penal practitioners and criminal justice experts, prejudices toward (black and brown) street criminals, fears about crime and anxiety over the economy, the transformed labor market and access to higher education. The article contends that the timing and texture of the Pell Grant affair were symbiotically related to a confluence of developments in the political and related fields during the 1980s and early 1990s. It extends Emile Durkheim’s communicative theory of penalty to encompass notions of class power and political interest. By producing such legislative penal dramas, lawmakers simultaneously tap into and legitimize collective sentiments of particular audiences, highlight symbolic boundaries between in-and out-groups and shore up political electoral support for punitive policies.
Petit, B. & Western, B. 2004. Mass Imprisonment and the life course: Race and class inequality in U.S. incarceration. American Sociological Review, 69(2), 151-69.
Abstract: Although growth in the U.S. prison population over the past twenty-five years has been widely discussed, few studies examine changes in inequality in imprisonment. We study penal inequality by estimating lifetime risks of imprisonment for black and white men at different levels of education. Combining administrative, survey, and census data, we estimate that among men born between 1965 and 1969, 3 percent of whites and 20 percent of blacks had served time in prison by their early thirties. The risks of incarceration are highly stratified by education. Among black men born during this period, 30percent of those without college education and nearly 60percent of high school dropouts went to prison by 1999. The novel pervasiveness of imprisonment indicates the emergence of incarceration as a new stage in the life course of young low- skill black men.
Potts, K.S., & Palmer, L. (2014). Voices of parolees attending community college: Helping individuals and society. Community College Review, 42(4), 267-282.

Abstract: As one of the few qualitative studies on this topic, this phenomenological study examined how parolees experience participation in a community college reentry program. One-on-one interviews were conducted with 11 parolee college students. Major themes found that parolees enjoy the college environment and that they have become role models for their families as a result of their college experiences. Most participants also believe that taking community college classes has improved their parole experiences and will decrease their chances of returning to prison. This research reveals a potential role for more community colleges to serve such parolee populations as part of their public good mission.

Prigg, C. (2018, February 06). Prison Education in America: The History and the Promise. Retrieved from
Web Article Introductory Paragraph: Concerned citizens began the first American prison system in Pennsylvania in 1787, and a clergyman, William Rogers, was the first educator (, 2012). There has been ongoing national debate since then concerning what we as a nation should do with wrongdoers, including whether the criminal justice system should focus solely on punishment, rehabilitation, or a measure of both.
Prison Activist Resource Center. (2017). Retrieved from
Program Description: PARC is a prison abolitionist group committed to exposing and challenging all forms of institutionalized racism, sexism, able-ism, heterosexism, and classism, specifically within the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). PARC believes in building strategies and tactics that build safety in our communities without reliance on the police or the PIC. We produce a directory that is free to prisoners upon request, and seek to work in solidarity with prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends and families. We also work with teachers and activists on many prison issues. This work includes building action networks and materials that expose the continuing neglect and outright torture of more than 2 million people imprisoned within the USA; as well as the 5+ million who are under some form of surveillance and control by the so-called justice system. We are fully funded by individual donations and foundations.
Project Rebound. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Program Description: In 1967 Professor John Irwin created Project Rebound as a way to matriculate people into San Francisco State University directly from the criminal justice system. The focus of Project Rebound quickly became “Education as an Alternative to Incarceration” and “Turning Former Prisoners into Scholars” after being embraced by Associated Students Incorporated. Since the program’s inception, there have been hundreds of formerly incarcerated folks who have obtained four–year degrees and beyond.
Rosenthal, A., NaPier, E., Warth, P., & Weissman, M. (2015). Boxed out: Criminal history screening and college application attrition. Retrieved from Center for Community Alternatives, Inc., website:
This report builds upon CCA’s 2010 study, “The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered.” It makes clear how the criminal history box on college applications and the supplemental requirements and procedures that follow create barriers to higher education for otherwise qualified applicants. We focused on the State University of New York (SUNY), and found that almost two out of every three applicants who disclosed a felony conviction were denied access to higher education, not because of purposeful denial of their application but because they were driven out of the application process by the stigmatizing questions and the “gauntlet” of additional requirements. We call this phenomenon “felony application attrition.”
Solomon, A.L., Waul, M., Van Ness, A., & Travis, J. (2004). Outside the walls: A national snapshot of community-based prisoner re-entry programs. Retrieved from
Outside the Walls provides descriptions of a broad array of prisoner reentry activity across the country, as well as briefing papers that discuss what is known about reentry as it pertains to employment, health, housing, family, faith, and public safety. The Urban Institute produced this report in collaboration with Outreach Extensions as part of the National Media Outreach Campaign, a new effort to encourage discussion and decision-making about solution-based prisoner reentry programs among local community and faith-based organizations. The Urban Institute conducted a national scan of reentry programs that are addressing the needs and risks facing returning prisoners, their families, and communities. The report benefited significantly from the input of national experts who nominated programs that are implementing innovative approaches to easing the reentry process in their local communities.
Tolbert, M. (2012). U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. A Reentry Education Model: Supporting Education and Career Advancement for Low-Skill Individuals in Corrections, Washington, D.C., 2012. Retrieved from
Abstract: This report describes the development of this developed correctional education reentry model illustrating an education continuum to bridge the gap between prison and community-based education and training programs. The reentry solution of an education continuum section covers the model for strengthening and aligning education services, establishing a strong program infrastructure, and ensuring education is well integrated in the corrections system; and applying and validating the model. This model ensures that offenders can gain the knowledge and skills needed to obtain long-term, living-wage employment, and transition successfully out of the corrections system. This model is based on a review of research studies and feedback from a panel of experts, including practitioners, administrators, and researchers in the fields of corrections and education
Tolbert, M. (2002). State correctional education programs: State policy update 11. National Institute for Literacy, Retrieved from
This State Policy Update provides background on the criminal justice system, summarizes the funding sources, correctional philosophy, and laws affecting state correctional education programs, and describes the adult prison population today. In addition, the Update reviews the various components of correctional education, discusses the benefits of education to inmates, and highlights correctional education initiatives in three states—Maryland, Ohio, and Texas.
Torre, M. E., & Fine, M. (2005). Bar none: Extending affirmative action to higher education in prison. Journal of Social Issues, 61(3), 569–594.

Abstract: Recognizing the intent of Affirmative Action to include historically marginalized citizens into institutions of higher learning, we stretch the limits of Affirmative Action to consider the role of higher education in prison. We present empirical findings of a 4-year, qualitative and quantitative participatory action research study of the impact of college in prison. Evidence is drawn from participant observations; individual and focus group interviews with participants of the college program, former inmates, prison administrators, corrections officers, and children of inmates; faculty surveys; and a quantitative analysis of recidivism rates. We address the psychological, academic, and crime-related impacts of higher education on women in prison, and document the benefits of broad-based access for inmates, prison environments, children of prisoners, and society-at-large

Ubah, C. B. (2004). Abolition of Pell grants for higher education of prisoners: Examining antecedents and consequences. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 39(2), 73-85.
Abstract:  Rehabilitative and reintegrative correctional philosophies see prison inmate college education as an effective approach to reduction of offender recidivism rate. The provision of prison-based college education Pell Grants by Congress were part and parcel of these correctional philosophies. This study critically and rigorously examines the history and the politics that led to the abolition of Pell Grants for prison inmates’ college education in the United States of America. The elimination of Pell Grants for prison inmates’ post-secondary correctional education is not without profound consequences that are too important and too costly to ignore. In this analysis, adequate efforts are made to discuss the profound consequences that occurred as a result of the abolition of Pell Grants for prison inmates’ college education.
Umez, C., De la Cruz, J., Richey, M., & Albis, K. (2017). Mentoring as a component of reentry: Practical considerations from the field. National Reentry Resource Center.
In its introduction, this report notes that although research has shown that carefully structured, well-run mentoring programs can positively impact social, behavioral, and academic outcomes for at-risk youth, it has yet to be determined whether adults reentering their communities after incarceration can also benefit from mentoring as part of a reentry program. The existing research related to adult reentry mentoring rarely addresses participants’ criminogenic risk levels and other factors that are known to be significant in recidivism-reduction strategies. In order to address this research gap, this report has five goals. First, it provides recommendations for community-based organizations that want to integrate adult mentoring into existing reentry programming. Second, it provides guidance for developing effective partnerships with correctional agencies. Third, it promotes peer learning by highlighting reentry programs that use promising practices in adult mentoring, including peer mentoring. Fifth, it encourages increased data collection and evaluation through stronger collaboration between reentry programs and research partners, so as to determine the value of mentoring adults in reentry. Appendixes contain a community-based organization and corrections agency relationship-building questionnaire, a sample logic model, a glossary, and 67 notes.
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2016). Office of general counsel guidance on application of fair housing act standards to the use of criminal records by providers of housing and real estate-related transactions. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website:
The Fair Housing Act (or Act) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and in other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. HUD’s Office of General Counsel issues this guidance concerning how the Fair Housing Act applies to the use of criminal history by providers or operators of housing and real-estate related transactions. Specifically, this guidance addresses how the discriminatory effects and disparate treatment methods of proof apply in Fair Housing Act cases in which a housing provider justifies an adverse housing action–such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease-based on an individual’s criminal history.
United States Sentencing Commission (2016). Recidivism among federal offenders: A comprehensive overview.
Abstract: This report provides a broad overview of key findings from the United States Sentencing Commission’s study of recidivism of federal offenders. The Commission studied offenders who were either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005. Nearly half (49.3%) of such offenders were rearrested within eight years for either a new crime or for some other violation of the condition of their probation or release conditions. This report discusses the Commission’s recidivism research project and provides many additional findings from that project. In the future, the Commission will release additional publications discussing specific topics concerning recidivism of federal offenders.
Vacca, J. (2004). Educated prisoners are less likely to return to prison. Journal of Correctional Education, 55, 297-305. Retrieved from
Abstract: Since 1990, the literature has shown that prisoners who attend educational programs while they are incarcerated are less likely to return to prison following their release. Studies in several states have indicated that recidivism rates have declined where inmates have received an appropriate education. Furthermore, the right kind of educational program leads to less violence by inmates involved in the programs and a more positive prison environment. Effective Education Programs are those that help prisoners with their social skills, artistic development and techniques and strategies to help them deal with their emotions. In addition, these programs emphasize academic, vocational and social education. The inmates who participate in these programs do so because they see clear opportunities to improve their capabilities for employment after being released. Program success or failure is hampered, however, by the values and attitudes of those in the authority position, overcrowded prison population conditions and inadequate funding for teaching personnel, supplies and materials. In addition, recent studies show that most inmates are males who have little or no employable skills. They are also frequently school dropouts who have difficulties with reading and writing skills and poor self-concepts and negative attitudes toward education. Literacy skills in learner-centered programs with meaningful contexts that recognize the different learning styles, cultural backgrounds and learning needs of inmates are important to program success and inmate participation. Inmates need education programs that not only teach them to read effectively but also provide them with the necessary reinforcement that promote a positive transition to society when they are released. Efforts in this direction would help stimulate better participation of inmates in all prison education programs and will go a long way to help the prisoner rehabilitation process.
Valera, P., Brotzman, L., Wilson, W., & Reid, A. (2017). “It’s hard to reenter when you’ve been locked out”: Keys to offender reintegration. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 56(6), 412-431. doi: 10.1080/10509674.2017.1339159.

Abstract: Using constructivist grounded theory, we conducted 15 semi structured interviews of men and women with criminal justice backgrounds, and three focus groups to examine group level offender reentry strategies. Participants comprised 20 formerly incarcerated men and women who were incarcerated in a New York state prison or at Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex. This study revealed four keys to offender reintegration: (a) linking offenders to society; (b) institutional and community anchors; (c) social supports; and (d) personal epiphany. The keys to offender reintegration provide an opportunity to interrupt patterns of relapse, rearrest, and recidivism.

Visher, C. A., & Travis, J. (2003). Transitions from prison to community: Understanding individual pathways. The Annual Review of Sociology, 29, 89-113. doi: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.095931.

Abstract: In 2002, over 600,000 individuals left state and federal prisons, four times as many as were released in 1975. However, according to a national study, within 3 years, almost 7 in 10 will have been rearrested and half will be back in prison, either for a new crime or for violating conditions of their release. Clearly, an individual’s transition from prison back into a home and into a community is difficult, and avoiding crime can be the least of his or her problems. Understanding these path- ways and the reasons for and the dimensions of an individual’s success or failure is the focus of recent scholarly attention to the problem of “prisoner reentry,” the process of leaving prison and returning to free society. However, most of the existing research on prisoners’ lives after release focuses solely on recidivism and ignores the reality that recidivism is directly affected by postprison reintegration and adjustment, which, in turn, depends on four sets of factors: personal and situational characteristics, including the individual’s social environment of peers, family, community, and state-level policies. Moreover, individual transitions from prison to community are, we suggest, best understood in a longitudinal framework, taking into account an individual’s circumstances before incarceration, experiences during incarceration, and the period after release—both the immediate experience and long-term situational circumstances. This review summarizes what we know about the four specified dimensions and how they affect an individual’s transition from prison to community. The review concludes with a call to the research community for interdisciplinary, multilevel, longitudinal studies of the processes of reintegration for former prisoners. Such research may illuminate many dimensions of social life, including the effects of recent social policies.

Wagner, P., & Sawyer, W. (2018). Mass incarceration: The whole pie 2018. Retrieved from Prison Policy Initiative website:

Description: Can it really be true that most people in jail are being held before trial? And how much of mass incarceration is a result of the war on drugs? These questions are harder to answer than you might think, because our country’s systems of confinement are so fragmented. The various government agencies involved in the justice system collect a lot of critical data, but it is not designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. Meaningful criminal justice reform that reduces the massive scale of incarceration, however, requires that we start with the big picture.  This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 1,852 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.

Wakefield, S., & Uggen, C. (2010). Incarceration and stratification. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 387-406.
Abstract: In the past three decades, incarceration has become an increasingly powerful force for reproducing and reinforcing social inequalities. A new wave of sociological research details the contemporary experiment with mass incarceration in the United States and its attendant effects on social stratification. This review first describes the scope of imprisonment and the process of selection into prison. It then considers the implications of the prison boom for understanding inequalities in the labor market, educational attainment, health, families, and the intergenerational transmission of inequality. Social researchers have long understood selection into prison as a reflection of existing stratification processes. Today, research attention has shifted to the role of punishment in generating these inequalities.
Weissman, M., Rosenthal, A., Warth, P., Wolf, E., & Messina-Yauchzy, M. (2010). The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered. Retrieved from Center for Community Alternatives, Inc., website: .

This report reviews findings from a first-of-its-kind survey conducted by the Center for Community Alternatives in collaboration with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) that explores the use of criminal history screening in college admissions procedures. A 59-question survey was administered electronically between September 30 and October 29, 2009 through AACRAO’s network of 3,248-member institutions in the United States. In all, 273 institutions responded to the survey. The survey helped inform the recommendations contained in this report.

Western, B., Braga, A., Davis, J., & Sirois, C. (2015). Stress and hardship after prison. American Journal of Sociology, 120(5), 1512 – 1547.
Abstract: The historic increase in U.S. incarceration rates made the transition from prison to community common for poor, prime-age men and women. Leaving prison presents the challenge of social integration— of connecting with family and finding housing and a means of subsistence. The authors study variation in social integration in the first months after prison release with data from the Boston Reentry Study a unique panel survey of 122 newly released prisoners. The data indicate severe material hardship immediately after incarceration. Over half of sample respondents were unemployed, two-thirds received public assistance, and many relied on female relatives for financial support and housing. Older respondents and those with histories of addiction and mental illness were the least socially integrated, with weak family ties, unstable housing, and low levels of employment. Qualitative interviews show that anxiety and feelings of isolation accompanied extreme material insecurity. Material insecurity combined with the adjustment to social life outside prison creates a stress of transition that burdens social relationships in high-incarceration communities.