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Former U.S. Secretary of Education's "Dear Colleague" Letter

"Dear Colleagues,

Today, more than two million adults in the United States are incarcerated in local jails and federal and state prisons. The United States accounts for less than five percent of the world's population, but nearly 25 percent of its inmates. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 95 percent of state prisoners will leave incarceration and be reintegrated into society at some point. In order to reduce recidivism, it is important for these individuals to become productive and contributing members of our society.  Providing these individuals with opportunity, advancement, and rehabilitation is not only the right thing to do, it also positions our country to remain economically competitive in a global economy.  To foster this reintegration and reduce recidivism, we as a nation must continue to expand and develop correctional education and reentry support programs. 

Research suggests that correctional education programs can have a positive impact on people in prison.  Incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education are 43 percent less likely to recidivate and 58 percent more likely to find post-release employment than incarcerated individuals who do not participate. These outcomes are likely to improve the well-being of the individual, their families, and their communities.  Research also estimates the cost-effectiveness of these programs.  A conservative cost-benefit analysis shows that for every dollar spent on correctional education, four to five dollars may be saved on three-year reincarceration costs. The evidence shows that correctional education programs have the potential to decrease crime, save money, and change lives.  High-quality correctional education has become one of the most effective crime-prevention tools at our disposal."

View the Letter