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Educational Resources, Racial Isolation and Adult Imprisonment Risk Among U.S. Birth Cohorts Since 1910, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages
This executive summary introduces the research involving the relationship among State level school resources, racial isolation, and the likelihood of incarceration during the 20th century.
No prior research has documented the connections between State-level spending on education and individual imprisonment risk. This summary describes the three competing models developed for and employed in the research study. An educational resource model, a no impact model, and a gatekeeper model of educational attainment, methods developed by labor economists Card and Krueger. A merge of 16 percent micro-level census data on State and local prisoners with 5 percent samples of publicly released micro-level data on non-institutionalized individuals from the 1980 and 1990 census reports and two 1 percent samples from the 1970 census was evaluated in this study. Results indicate that greater educational spending in high schools lowered an individual incarceration risk. Additionally, States that spent more money on education and provided a more racially diverse school system significantly reduced imprisonment risk in adults. The study also found that while African-American students educated in State school systems that had higher proportions of White students faced significantly lower risks of incarceration since the 1960’s, attending schools with a higher proportion of Whites provided no or little reduction in imprisonment risk for African-American cohorts born during the period of segregation. The authors suggest that providing Black students with racially diverse educational environments may result in lowering their imprisonment risk, substantially.

Date Published: January 1, 2003