Human Impact Partners, in collaboration with the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, conducted an HIA to inform the New York State Legislature’s consideration of S. 975/A. 2870 (2015), a bill that would repeal the ban on providing student financial aid awards for postsecondary education to incarcerated persons through the state’s Tuition Assistance Program. The HIA analyzed the relationship between education programs offered in prison and educational attainment, employment and income, and recidivism among incarcerated individuals and their families, as well as the implications for physical and mental health for individuals, families, and the community.
Based on a literature review, focus groups, and interviews with subject matter experts, the HIA found that the proposed legislation would have positive health impacts on the individuals receiving the education, their families, and the communities to which inmates are returned. To maximize health benefits, the HIA recommended that the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision provide space, security, technology, and other resources for the creation, operation, and maintenance of successful college education programs. The HIA also recommended allowing and honoring educational holds to limit student transfers, ensuring the academic quality of college programs in prison by extending rigorous academic standards to cover the providers and courses, and emphasizing education as part of the re-entry process to maintain educational momentum.