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Stay in Faith, A better life is on the horizon

Social Justice Blog

Social Justice Blog

Prison Education and Recidivism

Posted on October 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM

In my August 17th 2014 blog, I stated that, “Pacholke's talks provides hope that the department of corrections has come to recognize the benefits of positive cultural changes within prisons with the hope of successful rehabilitation of reentry into society.” While the group of Washington State Department of Correction inmates benefitted from participating in university research projects, we have no certainty whether these types of prison experiences have translated into reducing recidivism. Although, Earhart (2014) claimed that changing prison culture would improve the quality of persons being released back into society. Since his concept of prisoner culture reform has not been proven to translate to reducing recidivism, we are uncertain of its probable impact. However, researchers Jancic (1998 ) and Esperian (2014) have proven the positive impact of in prison education programs. For those inmates who participate in educational programs that translate to current employable job skills, prison educational programs have benefit them as well as society. Yet, we still have a high percentage of recidivism even though educational programs have a long history of availably within the prison compound. There are several education-program related factors that contribute to this disparaging outcome.  Most educational programs may require voluntary participation, scholarly eligibility, financial resources, as well as inmate’s entitlement to enroll with respect to correctional policies.

Voluntary enrollment in prison education programs is understandable.  Why waste time, energy and resources to educate an unmotivated learner? However, motivation is not the only requirement of spending prison time for constructive educational goals. Beyond aspirations for an education and intellectual aptitude to succeed, is the ability of the prisoner to fund his education. In California, the cost of correctional education is the responsibility of the inmate. Given the demographics of the prison population, it is highly unlikely that a majority of inmates would be able to access this opportunity. Provided that an inmate does have the funds to enroll in the Voluntary Education Program (VEP), their next hurdle is to be eligible (as defined by the prison) for the program. Perhaps, we still have a high percentage of recidivism due to the fact that the program availability in prisons do not correlate to the majority of inmates eligibile to participate in such programs. Despite these hurdles, those inmates who are fortunate enough to enter the a VEP attest to its benefits.

California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris 

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expounds on the importance of prison education as well as the other factors that inhibit inmates from becoming productive citizens.

Earhart, J. (2014). Overcoming Isolation: A College Program Challenges Prison Culture through Engagement. St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev., 33, 329-519.


Esperian, J. H. (2010). The effect of prison education programs on recidivism. Journal of Correctional Education, 316-334.


Jancic, M. (1998. Does correctional education have an effect on recidivism? Journal of Correctional Education, 152-161.


All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant

Categories: Reducing Recidivism