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Education in Correctional Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages
The goals, nature, and problems of academic and vocational educational programs for inmates of correctional facilities are discussed.
Such programs serve three main purposes: promoting rehabilitation, providing a constructive use of inmates' time, and meeting the Federal standards which state that education programs should be available through the high school level in long-term facilities. The most common education programs offered in prisons are adult basic education, the general education diploma, postsecondary education, social education, vocational education, and self-help programs for people with such problems as alcoholism. Over 600 prison chapters of the Jaycees also are in operation. Some States, such as Texas and Arkansas, have prison school districts. The Texas Windham School District requires inmates to attend classes at least 6 hours per week if they achieve less than a fifth grade equivalency on a standardized test. Local citizens take part in classes with inmates at the Vienna Correctional Center, a minimum-security unit in Vienna, Ill. The California Youth Authority has extensive education programs for its wards. Colorado operates two unusual programs: one which tries to integrate vocational education with prison industries and one which provides educational opportunities for both inmates and correctional staff. Problems in establishing educational programs in correctional facilities include inmates' reluctance to participate due to their prior failures, harassment from other inmates, and some inmates' views that classes are 'busy work' created for the convenience of management. The Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor has worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to offer apprenticeship courses for women in nontraditional areas such as plumbing, in an attempt to deal with the special problems of women inmates. Several Federal laws deal at least indirectly with education in correctional facilities and financial aid for correctional inmates. Offenders who have been in education programs appear to do better after release than those who were not in programs, although many factors may have affected these results. The address from which to obtain the recommended Federal standards for prisons and jails is listed.