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Prison Literacy Connection

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 16 Issue: 12 Dated: (December 1991) Pages: 1,5-9
E Herrick
Date Published
6 pages
The relationship between illiteracy and incarceration is examined and several prison literacy programs are described.
According to the Correctional Education Association and other statistical data, the illiteracy for adult inmates is estimated at 75 percent. Although learning to read by itself will not prevent participation in crime, illiteracy may preclude knowledge of the legal system, participation in treatment programs, finishing education, finding employment, and may interfere with establishing good social relationships. Recent studies from eight states and the Correctional Service of Canada all indicate that education programs impact positively on recidivism. Addressing real life issues, such as drug use and family relationships, within a prison literacy program adds to its positive impact. A successful program requires a well-defined philosophy, well-trained and dedicated staff, administrative support and the cooperation of the security staff, course content covering life training skills, supportive environment conducive to learning, individualized and self paced instruction, use of effective student assessment, and community support. Four prison literacy programs are described: an eighth grade literacy initiative at the Correctional Service of Canada, a volunteer tutor program from the Correctional Education School Authority in Florida, a Developmental and Remedial Education closed circuit TV program, and the Motherread program in North Carolina.


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