Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Barbara Craig


Correctional, Education, Programs, Recidivism, Prison, Vocational, Propensity scoring match


This paper evaluates the impact of in-prison educational and vocational programs on recidivism among former inmates released from prisons in five different states during 1994. It is the first study to consider this particular topic using a subset of nationally representative data. Two sets of microeconometric analyses are performed in order to identify potential program effects. Initially, a basic multivariate framework is considered in which special consideration is given to problems of program heterogeneity; next, a propensity score matching (PSM) approach is used to address the issue of self-selection inherent in observational studies of this kind. The findings of this study are twofold. First, in evaluating correctional education programs, it is important to account for program heterogeneity not only in the form of multiple program types, but also stemming from cross-state differences. All of the regression analyses performed here indicated that the level of association between recidivism and program participation varied according to program type and also across states: participating in educational programs was generally found to significantly reduce the risk of recidivist behavior, whereas vocational programs had a negative but insignificant association with post-release outcomes. Second, this study underscores the importance of addressing issues of self-selection bias when evaluating prison programs and motivates the need for a more rigorous methodology.

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