UMD Assistant Professor, Sarah Tahamont, wrote to the New York Times in response to the unsigned editorial "Let Prisoners Learn While They Serve." The editorial makes reference to the empirical literature on the effects of prison education on recidivism, stating, "Decades of research has shown that inmates who participate in prison education programs — even if they fail to earn degrees — are far more likely to stay out of prison once they are freed." The Board goes on to observe that correctional officials rely on those findings to justify prison education programs as a "cost effective way of cutting recidivism."
Tahamont's letter cautions that a close reading of the oft-cited 2013 RAND review of prison education research reveals that few studies on the topic "pass methodological muster." While she advocates for prison education programs on humanitarian grounds, she makes the case that a body of research with more rigorous analysis is needed in order to substantiate the effects of inmate education on recidivism. She concludes by noting that the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program is reinvigorating education programs in prisons throughout the country offering a renewed opportunity to further explore the effect of correctional education on recidivism, "a crucial policy question in the age of mass incarceration."