21 January 2021
The Justice Data Lab (JDL) – a team of statisticians at the Ministry of Justice – looked at the employment and reoffending records in their first year of release for over 9,000 people supported by PET to study distance learning courses in prison. They then compared the outcomes for these people with a matched group of similar prisoners that had not been supported by PET.
The research demonstrates three key things about the people supported by PET:
This new analysis confirms the results of earlier JDL research that, in the year after release from prison, people supported by PET reoffended statistically significantly less than a matched comparison group of prisoners who had not been supported, and got employment statistically significantly more than the matched comparison group.
However in this latest experimental research the JDL team have been able to explore further the relationship between support from PET, employment and reoffending.
This evidence strongly supports the Prisoner Learning Alliance’s Theory of Change, published in 2016, about the positive impact of education.
Education in prison helps people to gain employment after release, and that is known from other research to be linked to lower levels of reoffending. But education has benefits in other ways too, including improved wellbeing, finding the self-belief and confidence to change, and creating a sense of belonging and community. These other benefits are also likely to help someone lead a fulfilling life away from crime.
The latest Justice Data Lab results cannot throw light on the precise factors at work. But they do show that it is not simply getting a job that is important in reducing reoffending (important though that is). This evidence further strengthens the already strong case for the value of education in prison.
Notes to editors:
About Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET):
Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has offered distance learning courses and advice to people in prisons across England and Wales – from GCSEs to the start of degrees, as well as a wide range of vocational courses.
Our work is proven by the Ministry of Justice to reduce the chance of someone returning to prison, and increase their chance of finding work.
And as the UK’s leading prison education charity, we advocate for system-wide improvements to make the most of education’s potential – for prisoners, their families, and society as a whole.
For further information about PET, please contact Calum Walker, Media and Communications Manager, by email or call on 07824 189661.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023