Jul 15, 2019 in Analysis
Effect of Prison Education on Recidivism

Research design 

A research design is a structure that entails the specification of methods and procedures for acquiring the information needed to obtain answers to the research questions. Other scholars view a research design as the way the research is organized, the evidence to be collected, where and how it will be interpreted. In order to develop the research design, research scholars contend that significant choices based on given rationale have to be made.


The researcher applied both qualitative and quantitative approach in this study. Moreover, the study relied on questionnaires and surveys that are filled by the respondents that included inmates and prison officials at Adirondack Correctional Facility. These were quite helpful because they offered statistical evidence from a large population typical of the business sector. 


In primary research, the author conducted the survey on a 100 male inmates in the selected correctional facility, located in New York. In the secondary search, he went on to develop the literature review in understanding the effect of prison on recidivism. In the end of the primary quantitative search, he went on to interview two experts, one academic and one industry expert to validate the findings. Data from inmates were deemed essential and quite helpful because they offer statistical evidence from a huge population. Interview guides were employed in gathering information from prison officials. 


The literature from secondary sources was retrieved from other studies government entities, and other organizations, which had done studies on the similar area. Additionally, the researcher relied on peer reviewed journals from reputable databases including JSTOR, search premier, and business source premier. These databases were crucial in the exploration of the topic under investigation. The method used in retrieving these journals included use of keywords related with the topic in the identified databases and websites. As soon as the articles were evaluated, they were arranged according to the questions, which they addressed. Afterwards, analysis of the main themes was conducted by relating the findings with the operations.


A survey method was deemed to be crucial in this research since it is an effective method in assessing individual’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Further, survey research can be applicable on different groups of people. A survey includes questions that are predetermined and which are provided to the respondents. With the population sample participating in the study, it can be easy to describe the attitudes of a given population from where the sample is derived from. In addition, the attitudes of a given population as well as the changes in these attitudes can be compared in a given time. Moreover, selection of a good sample could enable a generalization of the findings to the general population, a core objective of survey research. 


Data Collection Method

The data collected in the study will need to be extremely accurate, as inaccurate data collection can influence negatively on the integrity of the study findings. The data collection method chosen in a given study also depends on the type of data utilized, qualitative or quantitative. The current study as earlier on mentioned makes use of qualitative data. As result, the interview and questionnaire method of data collection was the most preferred method of primary data collection as it is associated with generating both qualitative and quantitative data. Alongside distribution of questionnaires in the specific prison, the researcher carried out intensive interview with the prison officials. The interviews were semi-structured and conducted on a face-face basis with the interviewees between 15 and 30 minutes for a period of 2 weeks.


The main advantage of collecting data through questionnaires and interviews was the ability to collect detailed and reliable information from the case study population as it included both inmates and prison officials. These methods of data collection were also ideal as they enabled the researcher to have depth on the information given. The main drawback to using these methods is that it is time consuming especially the interview one and may not allow for collection of views from a wide range of subjects. The researcher however countered this problem through allocation of adequate time to the research and use of well formulated questions to ensure comprehensive and tactical responses. 


The data collected in the study was analyzed through content analysis and by use of SPSS software for social sciences. In this case, the main themes arising from the interviews, questionnaires and documents were analyzed with a keen focus on finding answers to the study research questions. Content analysis also allows for identification of similarities and differences in responses hence increased ability to spot inconsistencies and hence greater accuracy in analysis. Ideas from the analysis were used to come up with recommendations and conclusion for the study. 

Findings and Discussion

The total number of participants in this study was 100 inmates and 20 prison officials. The collected data was analyzed by use of frequencies and percentages. The results are summarized and analyzed according to the study questions. In answering the main questions of the research, the percentages and frequencies were calculated for the responses of the sample on these questions.

Research Questions 

Question 1. Demographic Information 


Please state the age bracket in which you belong  see table 1.1 for results 

It can be identified that among the participants, 30 of them were aged between 35-50. On the other hand, 25 of the participants were aged between 25- 35 were 25. A similar number was obtained among participants of age group 25 and above. Those who were 50 years and above were 25 individuals. 

Interviews  see table 1.2 


Question 2: Effect of Vocation and Educational Programs on Recidivism 


2. Please state your view on the extent by which Vocation and Education Programs in Prison Impact on Prisoners. 

As can be seen from this finding, it is clear that that majority of the respondents had contended that vocational and educational opportunities harbor a significant impact on the general life of prisoners. In other words, the respondents confirmed that prisoners who have gone through vocational and educational programs in prison had a more likelihood of adapting to the society. Among the reasons could be the fact that education has a potential of changing the attitudes of criminals towards life and crime and thus are able to perceive the value of life and the necessity of upholding good virtues.  In addition, vocational programs enabled the prisoners to have skills that could help them make a living. With something that gives them their daily bread, such prisoners could not therefore be compelled to take part in criminal vices as a form of acquiring their income. Therefore, is apparent that vocational and education programs in prisons reduce the rate of recidivism among inmates. On the other hand, only six respondents pointed out that the impact of such programs on recidivism was at a low extent. Nonetheless, the percentage of the negative responses is insignificant when compared to the responses on the positive side. 


These views were augmented by all the prison officials interviewed in this study.  For instance, respondent explained that their facility has consistently seen the value of educational programs at the institution. Respondent A added that majority of inmates were very positive about the idea and that they were willing to join them as soon as they enter prison. According to respondent G, there should be no debate on whether correctional vocational and training works since most of those who undergo the process do not return here.


Respondent B, who is also the director of the correctional facility  visited  pointed out  that the correction vocational and training programs were designed with an aim of preparing  inmates to return to the society and prevent  them from returning  into the prison. The respondent goes on to disclose that his institution has evaluated other facilities and established recidivism is high, particularly among those institutions no educational and vocational programs. 


The need for education and vocational training in the U.S prisons has been reinforced by Brazzell et al. In accordance to this author, many people in the U.S do not have sufficient education when compared to the general population. A survey carried out by the author established that approximately 36 percent of inmates in government and state prisons had not attended high school education when compared to the general population in the U.S for individuals older than 16 years of age. What is more, ex-offenders do not have a consistent employment or vocational skills that can enable them to engage in self-employment. According to studies, the dynamics of prison entry and reentry into the society creates difficulty for offenders to find reliable work and hence establish their employment history. 


The effectiveness of educational and vocational programs in changing or altering recidivism among prisoners has been supported by various other studies. For instance, Bozos & Hausman notes that the use of vocational and educational programs in prison to control crime has been increasing in frequency over the last few decades. Most recently, compulsory minimum sentence and vocational policies have become so popular especially in the United States, rigorously limiting the discretion of the judiciary in sentencing.  The standard rationale for introduction of these programs is a belief that the length of time in prison and engagement in constructive activities will act as a constraint to future recidivism. The effects of vocational and educational programs on recidivism have for some time been subjected to heated argument. Infact, there are three schools of thought governing the area. 


Garmon points out that prisons and vocational programs unquestionably suppress the behavior of criminals. Given the horribleness of life in prison and the negative social stigma that comes with incarceration, these will deter latter criminal behavior. This view is rooted in the simple particular deterrent theory testifying that individuals who experience a more severe sanction and training opportunities will surely change their criminal minds and reduce their activities in the future. Research findings have noted that maintaining incarceration was in itself a cause for direct and indirect lose for inmates in many perspectives. These includes but not limited to stigmatization and loss of income. Therefore, whenever these individuals face the knowledge of being taken to prison, they decide not to undertake criminal activities because of the experiences they went through. 


Surveys have indicated that both offenders and the public regard prison as the most severe place of punishment for any criminal behavior. However, it is also commonly argued that many people who go to prison are those who are not able to adapt to the society. In other words, such people may not have an income that can sustain them and that if they were given a job, they could do away with their criminal mentality. 


Nonetheless, the negative views of the other respondents though they may appear insignificant may not be overlooked. The views that educational and vocational programs may not have an impact on recidivism are reinforced by various other scholars.  According to this school of thought, prisons are schools of crime irrespective of what might be taking place in there. This disagrees with idea that prisons enhance criminality. It is thought that the psychologically  vicious, barren and inhumane natur of prison  makes the wrongdoers more prone to consider recidivating after their release. This belief has been widely supported. Even the early writings in regard to criminology by such authors as De Beaumont and Bentham, portray that prisons happen to be breeding grounds for criminal activities. 


Erisman and Contardo elaborate on this aspect by explaining that an inmate who has stayed longer in prison becomes prisonized in that process. Further, such prisoners develop criminality tendencies, which continue becoming stronger and they are therefore more likely to recidivate when compared to the prisoner who has stayed for a less time. Among the various aspects of popular culture and human nature also reinforce the idea concerning prisons being mechanistic and brutal environments that have a potential of increasing criminality (example being movies and theatres). There exists a broad literature of mainly phenomenological, anecdotal, and qualitative in nature, which have all established that the course of action of prisonization have been viewed to devastate the psychological as well as the emotional well-being of offenders. In contrast to the first school of thought, “schools of crime” advocates for the view that the glass not as half-empty, but rather as half-full. By their kind of reasoning, if the prisons destroy the inhabitants psychologically, then their adjustments to the society after their release can never be positive irrespective of the skills they acquire in the process, with one prospective consequence being the return to crime.

Conclusion and Recommendation 

Findings from this study point out those prisoners who receive vocational training and education have a less likelihood of returning to prison after being released from their prison. In addition, they are also likely to adapt to the society since they can easily get employment of their skill that has been instilled on them.  This is when compared to their counterparts who do not get similar opportunities. Evidence that correctional education plays a positive role in reduction of recidivism is rife.  This makes it clear that provision of vocation training and education programs to inmates is quite critical in keeping them from returning to prison.  Among the reasons noted is that education and vocational training improves their job prospects alongside altering the negative attitude of criminals towards virtuos living. 


On the basis of this finding, it can therefore be recommended that states and governments to not only incorporate vocational and educational programs in correctional facilities, but also increase the budget towards these programs. This will ensure that the offender is rehabilitated accordingly and made useful in the society. This will therefore, not only help individual offenders, but also the society and the nation at large. The number of prisoners in correctional facilities will significantly reduce and the economy will rise because prison expenses are reduced and that former repeat offenders contribute to the same. 

Policy Changes 

On the basis of the findings from this study, it is necessary that governments and  responsive authorities introduce prison education in all prisons. Furthure, participation in this education and vocational programs should be made compulsory for all inmates. This aspect is  essential in altering the attitude of prisoners  with a criminal mentality, alongside giving them the necessary skills, which they can use for a living. This will see many prisoners abandoning  their  criminal behavior as a way of making a living since they  now have an alternative skill. In this perspectice, policies should also be introduced where the government is mandated to fund education and vocational programs in schools. This owes to the fact that education and vocational programs require resources and funds to run them. 


Table 1.1 Participants Age Bracket














50 and above




Table 1.2 Profile of the interviewees 




























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