Looking At The Impact Of Educational Resources For Prisoners On Reoffending Rates

Published: Jun 2016

Pro Bono Economics

Prisoners' Education Trust approached Pro Bono Economics to undertake an impact assessment of their programme that funds educational resources for prisoners.

Previously, an analysis by the Ministry of Justice’s Justice Data Lab found that those involved in PET programmes were six to eight percentage points less likely to reoffend within one year of release from prison when compared with a statistically-matched control group that had not received PET support.

This report, conducted by a team of economists from Ofcom, builds upon the findings of the MoJ’s Justice Data Lab report by examining whether the benefits of PET’s educational funding programme are worth the costs in terms of reducing reoffending. Using a break-even analysis, volunteer economists estimated that PET would need to reduce reoffending by just one percentage point for the costs of the programme to outweigh the costs associated with reoffending (for example, costs to society, the victim and the criminal justice system). If the analysis were to include other beneficial factors of the programme, such as improved prisoner wellbeing or improved employability, the effect on reoffending could be greater still, rendering the percentage point value to break-even yet lower.