Statistics make clear that a high school diploma increases a person’s lifetime earning potential in the U.S. Now there is research that indicates graduating from high school also benefits a person if he or she is convicted of a crime.
The study, published in Crime & Delinquency, reports that high school graduates are 10 percent less likely to be sent to prison than those without a high school diploma. The study also found that high school graduates who are sent to prison receive shorter sentences than those who have not graduated high school – 1.4 percent shorter, to be exact.
Up to now, not a lot has been known about whether offenders’ education attainment level affected sentencing following conviction. A number of studies over the years have verified that race, age, sex, income and other factors impact sentencing. Federal laws have been passed
The study was conducted by Travis W. Franklin, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
“The lack of attention afforded educational attainment is noteworthy as there are theoretical reasons to expect an offenders’ educational status to influence sentencing not only directly but also through interaction with key extralegal factors,” Franklin states in his report.
Why Education Matters
Franklin suggests that a person without a high school diploma who is convicted of a crime may be perceived by judges and “court actors” as more likely than graduates to become a repeat offender. “It may be that offenders with higher levels of education will be viewed as less risky individuals – those who possess the necessary skill set to meaningfully contribute to society and ultimately remain free from serious crime.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Franklin’s study indicates that a college degree does not have a direct impact on whether someone is more likely to be convicted or how long of a prison sentence a person receives. That said, a college degree often does equate to a higher income, which does have a direct impact on criminal convictions and sentences.
Why does this research matter? It is important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney whenever you face criminal charges. Those who have a lower level of educational attainment deserve the same assertive representation that high school and college graduates can access. Attorney Frank Stanley handles all aspects of criminal cases – from misdemeanors to felonies, from state court to federal court, from investigations to appeals – for people from all walks of life.