Date of Conferral







Eric Hickey


Several factors impact whether inmates are successful upon release. Lack of education and job skills are critical reasons for unsuccessful reintegration. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions and observations of prison educators regarding inmate participation and motivation in prison education programs. Cloward and Ohlin’s opportunity theory provided the framework for the study. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with eight prison educators. Results of axial coding and thematic analysis resulted in four themes: time commitment, access to programs, negative interaction, and incentives. Findings indicated that from the educator’s perspective, inmates who were motivated and participated in educational programs had more success reintegrating into society upon release and less chance of recidivism. Reducing recidivism through prison education programs advances the betterment of society. Prison education programs improve society by fostering opportunities to create a positive social change and help former inmates become productive community members upon release. Education can be a gateway to social and economic mobility. Prison education programs are a cost-effective way of reducing crime, which leads to long-term benefits for society.