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Study in prison reduces recidivism and welfare dependence: a case study from Western Australia 2005–2010

Prisoners Rehabilitation Adult education Correctional education Western Australia

Describes the effectiveness of correctional education in improving post-release outcomes

Using a longitudinal dataset of prisoners in Western Australia, this paper describes the effectiveness of correctional education in improving post-release outcomes. The report shows that the more classes completed by prisoners the lower the rate of re-incarceration and the less likely they are to increase the seriousness of their offending. These, and other personal and societal benefits such as a reduction in welfare dependence, were positively associated with the number of classes prisoners successfully completed—that is, the more classes the inmate successfully completes, the less likely they are to reoffend and to access unemployment benefits.

Much has been written about how correctional education contributes to post-release outcomes for ex-prisoners. In their systematic review of 50 studies of the effectiveness of correctional education, Davis et al. (2013) found that study in prison unequivocally reduces post-release recidivism and, on average, increases post-release employment. Unlike most earlier studies of the impact of correctional education on recidivism and employment, including the primary studies included in the Davis et al. (2013) meta-analysis, this study uses five years of linked prison history, correctional education and income support payments data.

Improved employment and offending outcomes may better enable offenders to successfully reintegrate into their communities, and could produce cost savings into the future for justice authorities and social welfare services. This paper reports on the contribution of correctional education to reducing recidivism and welfare dependence (as a proxy for unemployment) for ex-prisoners in Western Australia.

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