ACLU Defends Former Prisoners’ Right to Vote

For the past several months, those of us in the prison litigation realm have watched the battle over prisoners’ voting rights unfold in the United Kingdom and the European Union.  Now we enjoy the ability to participate in our own such discussions, albeit not for current prisoners, but former prisoners in California. California state law

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Literacy Fact Sheet: Correctional Education

From the Oklahoma Department of Libraries 

Inmates have among the lowest academic skills and literacy rates of any segment of society. Upon completing their sentence, most inmates re-enter society no more skilled than when they entered the correctional facility.—Correction Education Data Guidebook, U.S. Department of Education


  • The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. At yearend 2010, the total number of offenders under the supervision of the adult correction authorities represented about 3% of adults in the U.S. resident population, or 1 in every 33 adults. Some 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in prisons or jails, while another 4,887,900 were under community supervision as part of the parole and probation systems. America locks up more of its citizens than Iceland, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany and Italy combined.
  • In 2008, one of every 48 working-age men was in prison or jail.—The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration
  • In 2008, federal, state, and local governments spend nearly $75 billion on corrections, with the large majority spent on incarceration.—The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration
  • If the male high school graduation rate were increased by just 5%, annual crime-related savings to the nation would be approximately $5 billion dollars. The benefits would vary from state to state: South Dakota (at the low end) would save $1.6 million, Oklahoma (near the middle) would save $63 million, and California (at the high end) would save almost $675 million.—Saving Futures, Saving Dollars
  • Nationwide, three-quarters of state prison inmates are drop-outs, as are 59% of federal inmates. In fact, drop-outs are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated in their lifetime. African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated. Of all African American male drop-outs in their early 30’s, 52% have been imprisoned. 90% of the 11,000 youth in adult detention facilities have less than a 9th grade education.—Every Nine  Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout
  • Both male and female prison inmates had lower average scores on all three literacy scales (prose, document, and quantitative) than adults of the same gender living in households. 56% of prisoners had Below Basic or Basic prose literacy skills.—The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)
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