Investing in Education for Prisoners Curbs Recidivism

These resource papers are excerpted from the book College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons.

Ex-offenders who receive a post-secondary education while in prison return to the streets with new skills and a new way of thinking. They are much better positioned to obtain stable employment with an income that supports a decent standard of living.

Many more motivated prisoners are eager to better themselves through education and return to society as productive citizens. With just a little help, they can succeed.

The benefits of education inside prisons will have long-range generational effects. Almost 2 million children live without one or more parents who are incarcerated. Since the children often end up in foster care or other situations where the parent-child bond suffers, the kids are at a higher risk of committing crimes. School performance suffers, and drugs and alcohol begin to look like a quick escape.

Ex-prisoners who have been educated can become positive role models for their families and children. Since they recognize and immediately reap the benefits of education, they are determined to ensure that their own children be educated. This reduces the crime rate generation after generation.

American President Barack Obama appears to agree, announcing in July this year to make Pell Grant funding available during a 3-5-year pilot project to see how prison education can reduce recidivism rates.

Rehabilitation has been ignored for far too long in America’s supposedly advanced prison system.  Incarceration today is about retribution, not rehabilitation. Three strikes laws, incarceration rates for nonviolent drug crimes, and fearmongering have created a chain of human warehouses across our nation. The focus is on locking people up for as long as possible.

The solution is education delivered inside prisons via:

  • Online education is provided through secure connections.
  • Onsite streaming of educational videos and programs that teach life skills.
  • Correspondence courses that provide learning opportunities that are broad, appropriate, and college-level.

Rehabilitation enhances safety inside prisons, creates a better society, returns tremendous cost savings to our nation, and provides generational benefits.
An educated citizen is the best citizen now…and for our future.