Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. James Sanders

Second Advisor

Dr. Lloyd Braithwaite

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol Sheffer


When a convicted felon is considered for parole from a correctional institution, several factors relating to his experience while incarcerated are presented before the Parole Board. One of the factors which is considered favorably by the Board and indicative of rehabilitation is an individual's participation in educational programs while serving his sentence. This implies a non-verbal quid-pro-quo exchange. Its effect is to fill classrooms even where no formal requirement compels enrollment (Bowker, 1982, 241).

The purpose of this research was to determine if the completion of a two-year post secondary program while incarcerated, resulted in a lower rate of recidivism than that experienced by an inmate from a similar risk category that had not completed a two-year academic program while incarcerated.

The research was concerned with identifying those institutions within the State of Michigan which granted two-year degrees to inmates in the years 1975 and 1976. More specifically, the criminal activity of one hundred and ninety-three inmates was recorded allowing for a minimum of three years release time following incarceration. The risk category of the inmate was recorded to determine if a particular risk category of graduates was more prone to recidivate than a sample of non-graduates with the same risk classification.

There was not a significant difference in the rate of recidivism between those inmates who had been graduated from a two-year college program while incarcerated and those inmates who had not graduated from a two-year program while incarcerated. The rate of success, defined as no new prison sentence being imposed on the released inmate, was independent of graduation. This study also indicated that dispersion among the risk categories for graduates who failed was similar to the dispersion among the risk categories for the entire released prison population in 1975 and 1976.

Inmate success, defined as no felony convictions following release from prison, was not associated with graduation, and the distribution among the five assaultive and three property risk classifications was similar for both graduates and non-graduates. Graduation from two year college programs while incarcerated does not appear to be instrumental in lowering rates of recidivism.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access