Educational programs for prisoners are essential to increase the literacy level among inmates and provide opportunities for them upon release. Correctional education is vital to the rehabilitation of inmates in the United States prison system. In the United States, about 90% of the general population completed high school and received a diploma. This number exceeds the estimated 41% of inmates in the U.S prison system that do not hold a high school diploma. Likewise, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that only 24% of inmates housed in federal correctional facilities have a college education. In comparison, this is 24% less than the United States general population.
The Benefits of Educational Programs for Prisoners
The United States Department of Education asserts that education in correctional facilities is integral to the reintegration of inmates in their community upon their release. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and state prisons offer educational programs for inmates to learn new skills and acquire useful knowledge that will be applicable to their post-incarceration life.
Educational programs can reduce the rate of re-offense among inmates. The Bureau of Justice Statistics once reported that more than half of individuals that complete a prison sentence are reconvicted within a short period. It can be attributed to the poor rehabilitation of inmates in the U.S prison system. However, educating inmates can encourage them to have a better purpose and also provide a more suitable direction for them upon completion of their sentence. When inmates enrol for a degree or learn useful skills through educational programs, they may be discouraged from further criminal activities after completing their incarceration sentence.
Education programs for prisoners also improve the self-esteem of prisoners and can prevent them from participating in illegal activities while in prison. Federal and state prisons are marred with violence and fights among inmates trying to survive the unsuitable conditions of the prison system. Enrolment in educational programs can occupy the time of inmates, preventing mass engagement in violent activities. Prisons should also have facilities like a library in which interested inmates can learn or read in.
The chances of inmates securing employment after release from prison may be slim due to the criminal stigma they face. This issue makes their reentry into society difficult. Employers may wish not to hire ex-convicts, and some perform background checks on applicants for a job opportunity. This reduces the chances of ex-prisoners securing legal employment in a bid to rebuild their lives. Some states have implemented laws to discourage this discrimination, but most have failed to enforce such laws effectively.
Providing educational programs to inmates will provide them with a better range of employment opportunities. Prisons can organize job training and academic classes for inmates to achieve this.
Provision of educational programs for prisoners is a cost-effective method and lasting solution to diminish the crime rate in the United States. The incarceration rate has been on the rise over the decades, resulting in the government spending more funds to house prisoners and expand correctional facilities. However, investing in prison education can potentially solve the issue of mass incarceration on a long-term basis. Research shows that there is a 43% chance that inmates who participate in prison education programs will not be reconvicted.