Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jessica M. Grosholz, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathleen Heide, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chae Jaynes, Ph.D.


Education, Efficacy, Evidence-Based, In-Depth Interviews, Prison, Programs


Prison programs have existed for decades; however, recent attention towards prison reform has raised awareness of the importance of correctional education. Research has shown that many of these programs are highly effective for incarcerated individuals in that program participation is likely to decrease recidivism and increase post-release employment success. Using in-depth interviews with 40 currently incarcerated men – 20 of whom participated in a 2-year prison program (the LIFERS program) and 20 who did not – and matched institutional records for visitation and disciplinary infractions, this study expands on the current research by assessing additional measures of program efficacy, including institutional misconduct, social support, and readiness for reentry. Although institutional records did not reveal many significant differences between the two groups in terms of the number of disciplinary infractions and visits, LIFERS program graduates described having significant levels of social support from others inside and outside of prison, and believed they are more prepared to reenter society. This study may inform policy regarding the importance of implementing and maintaining access to programming for all incarcerated individuals, as well as increasing the number and improving the quality (e.g., increasing funds, prison educators) of the programs offered. It may also have significant implications towards reducing the barriers for program involvement. Lastly, this study adds to the growing literature on the potential importance of prison programming as it relates to institutional behavior and individual attitudes.