By Christopher Zoukis
Like many other states, North Carolina’s approach to prison education is multi-tiered and varied. With inmates coming from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational levels, the population of NC prisoners has access to many programs suited to their needs. Not only does the North Carolina Department of Corrections offer basic adult education to inmates, they partner with universities and community colleges statewide to offer qualifying inmates access to higher education.
Why Education in NC Prisons?
The NC vision for education isn’t much different than other state programs that hold the view that if you educate prisoners, give them a chance to earn an income through legitimate forms of employment, you will reduce recidivism. In a news article in the Star News Online, the reporter acknowledged that North Carolina is among a handful of states that make “inmate education a Image courtesy en.m.wikipedia.org priority.” An official at the Department of Corrections stated clearly that they have the inmates as a “captured audience.” They then treat this audience to a regimen of programs that are ultimately good for them—and many inmates realize the good it does them as they participate in their own educational growth.
Addressing Educational Needs
Many inmates require educational programs that teach the basics—reading and writing. There are programs that impart basic literacy skills to prisoners statewide. Many inmates, of course, have basic skills but do not have a diploma or GED that would make them more employable upon release. So, the prison system offers coursework that allows inmates to brush up their skills and acquire the certifications they need to eventually gain legitimate work. Other programs address vocational skills that help inmates develop specific career skills for specific types of jobs. Gaining experience in a field is an important asset for prisoners to obtain in order to qualify for jobs upon their release.