At a recent graduation in Arkansas, there were no mortarboards and gowns allowed — those could hide weapons. Excited family members were told to calm down and be seated when their cheers got too rowdy. There were locks, gates and plenty of security, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm over the event, where 641 inmates of the state’s prison schools were graduating, and Governor Asa Hutchinson was speaking— the only graduation speech request he accepted this year.
By Leah Binkovitz / Houston Chronicle Fort Bend County Jail / Image courtesy jailstuff.org Ramiro Eric Avalos just celebrated his 32nd birthday – his third
By Richard Foster
Ninety-five percent of American prisoners will be released back into society, based on information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. One of the most important goals of the criminal justice system is to reduce the likelihood they will recidivate upon release. Research shows that completion of a GED during incarceration reduces the percent of recidivism by approximately five percent. The Bureau also reports that, “As of June 30, 2009, state and federal correctional authorities had jurisdiction over 1,617,478 prisoners.” Five percent would therefore be equivalent to around 80,000 fewer returnees.
According to the U. S. Department of Justice: FY 2011 Budget Request, “As a result of successful law enforcement policies, the number of criminal suspects appearing in federal court continues to grow, as does the number of individuals ordered detained and ultimately incarcerated.” It goes on to explain that the number of FY 2010 prisoners was 215,000 which is expected to rise approximately 3.2% in FY 2011, up 7,000 to 222,000 inmates.
The notion that an increase in the inmate population represents success could be viewed differently. These 7,000 suspects, detainees, and convicts are representative of two categories of offenders. Some are new to the federal system, yet many are returning after previous incarceration. Whether for parole violations or due to new charges being filed, recidivism rates account for an unnecessarily large proportion of those within our prison system. The Pew Center on the States’ report, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons, April 13, 2011, reports that based on the data received by 41 states on prisoners released in 2004, after three years, the normal time period for these studies, there was a recidivism rate of 43.3%. This represents almost half the inmates released. It is no wonder that the U.S. has the largest percentage of its population incarcerated, as many of those who recidivate end up back in prison. Again, according to the Pew study, “…, incarceration levels had risen to a point where one in 100 American adults was behind bars. A second Pew study the following year added another disturbing dimension to the picture, revealing that one in 31 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole.”
By Garry W. Johnson
You just can’t trust anybody anymore. GED and college correspondence graduates are finding more and more that the certificates they worked so hard for (and/or paid through the nose for) are not worth the paper they are printed on. Even worse, some are being ripped off through scholarship scams with nothing to show for their effort but debt.
If you’ve come into the prison system and find yourself sitting in a GED class because your credentials were “unverifiable,” you are not alone. Students across the country are finding GEDs they paid as much as $1,500 for are nothing more than counterfeits produced by a “diploma mill.”
These non-accredited correspondence or distance learning schools have been around for decades, but the internet has now enabled them to reach a much larger audience and expand more into the GED market.
As Washington continues to monkey with the unstable economy and unemployment skyrockets, high school dropouts are finding themselves with even poorer job prospects and turning to these mills in desperation. Statistics from the official General Education Development (GED) program in North Carolina show 14,364 people completing the test in the fiscal year 2011-2012. That was up from 13,028 in 2009-2010 and 12,817 the year before that.
Instead of increasing their ability to obtain or hold a job, the victims of GED scams find themselves squandering money they don’t have and making themselves subject to job termination, lawsuits and criminal prosecution. “I don’t know how someone who has any kind of conscience can make money from people who are already struggling,” said C.T. Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service in Washington.
Steve is looking down at his G.E.D. test booklet. It’s his fourth time taking this test. He’s mastered three of the five test subjects and he’s gazing at the questions – after months of preparation and studying – though it all looks Greek to him.
He’s sweating and feeling nauseous. Steve knows that he isn’t going to achieve what he’s been working on for so long. He failed and now he needs to do all the studying all over again.
Many Americans go through this problem every day. Passing the G.E.D. is no easy task, but it’s achievable. Some call it Test Block Syndrome. That’s when you suddenly forget what you studied, but it’s not that: it is confidence.
Many prisoners incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons have grown up with minimal to no education. Prison administrations recommend that prisoners sign up and complete the G.E.D. program offered in their Education Department prior to release. But even then, a number of enrolled prisoner-students leave prison without attaining a G.E.D. This results in increased recidivism rates.
As a result, the prison-educators at FCC Petersburg have implemented a program that would remedy the problems that Steve encountered. That program is called: Fasttrack G.E.D.
Students that earn their General Education Development diplomas while incarcerated have a lower rate of reoffending because they check out of their cell with a tool that insures economical productivity. Inmates that return to society with a diploma in hand are more likely to be hired even with a criminal record history.
Earning a GED while incarcerated at Kent County, Grand Rapids MI is a viable option for rehabilitating inmates in a short amount of time because their stay is limited.
A GED diploma is the magical entry to the working world because it noticeably demonstrates proof an individual is willing to change. The recidivism rate is dramatically lowered for ex inmates when they have the capacity to care for themselves and their families.
The downside of this seemingly easy solution for a complicated problem is there is a shortage of GED teachers.
Kent County, Grand Rapids, MI Community Corrections has experienced the impact of a scarcity of GED instructors with only one part time teacher, one tutor, and two youth advocates work with incarcerated students to help them earn their GED. This is a crime because obtaining a diploma for inmates increases their chances of a successful future in the outside world. A GED diploma is the key to employment and avoiding a life of crime.
By George Hook
The BOP Central Office Division of Industries, Education, and Vocational Training has published an Occupational Training Programs Directory which sets forth its program offerings to federal prisoners in the Advanced Occupational Training category. The stated purpose of these programs is to afford prisoners interested in furthering their employability upon release the opportunity to do so by enrolling in the various vocational courses offered. Included are exploratory, marketable skill, and apprenticeship level courses. According to that Directory, 81 more or less distinct courses in the Advanced Occupational Training category are offered. These Advanced Occupational Training courses range in duration from two days to 48 months. The typical duration is 12 months.
The courses offered in the Advanced Occupational Training category are Accounting Operations, Administrative Assistant, Advanced Computer Applications, Advanced Diesel Engine Repair, Alcohol Substance Abuse Studies, Animal Husbandry, Aquaculture, Automotive Diagnostics Repair, AutoCAD, Automated Computer Aided Design and Drafting, Basic Baking, Basic Computer Applications, Basic Computer Repair and Refurbishing, Basic Computer Skills, Basic Custodial Maintenance, Basic Diesel Engine Repair, Bookkeeping and Clerical Studies, Business Foundations, Building Maintenance—Electrical, Business Management and Law, Business Supervision and Management, Building Trades, Business Accounting, Automotive Service, Bookbinding, Business Administration, Business and Information Processing, Business Leadership, Business Technology, Canine Trainer, Computer Applications, Computer Business Education, Commercial Drivers License, Computerized Engraving, Computer Refurbishing—Hardware, Computer Refurbishing—Software, Construction Technology, Consumer Electronic Repair, Copy Repair, Cosmetology,