Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 12-31-2016

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Dr. Karen Bowser

Committee Member

Dr. Nydia Cummings


adult education, correctional education, incarceration rates, postsecondary education, prison education, recidivism rates


The problem is Florida is ranked as having the 10th largest incarceration rate in the United States, with a recidivism rate of almost 30%. Therefore, this researcher conducted a systematic review of the literature to determine any benefits to providing college courses to inmates, including the reduction of recidivism. To determine the effectiveness of higher education in prisons, three states that offer higher education options were reviewed. The Campbell Collaboration outlined the framework for the systematic review protocol. Multiple electronic databases were searched for literature including Education Resource Information Clearinghouse (ERIC), Google Scholar, Journal Storage (JSTOR), LesixNexis Academic, National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), ProQuest, and Psychological Information Database (PsycINFO). In addition, the Campbell Collaboration website was also reviewed to search for additional systematic reviews relating to the availability of postsecondary education opportunities in the prison system.

There is growing concern about the problem of mass incarceration in the United States as well as increasing recidivism rates. Although several federal policies have been enacted in an attempt to decrease the number of America’s prison population, the findings revealed that the most cost-effective method is providing inmates with an opportunity to earn a college degree during incarceration. The implications of this research may have an impact on many entities such as legislative and policy measures, availability of economic resources, improved family and community structures, an increase in the number of taxpayers, and the reduction of prison inmates.

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