Prisoners' Education Trust: evaluating the impact of educational resources for prisoners on reoffending rates

1 May 2016

Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) provides support services to prisoners, primarily funding the provision of access for prisoners to educational resources ranging from studying for formal academic qualifications to arts and crafts materials. 

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.

We would like to thank Helen Ferguson and Paul Oxley for their time and hard work on this report.

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