Pomp and Circumstance at the Prison

Ontario, Oregon — Seated in the visitors center at Snake River Correctional Institution, Angelica Carrasco, face split by a wide grin, craned her neck to search for one face in the crowd of blue-clad men in the back of the room. She waved when she caught her son’s eye, and 33-year-old inmate Pascual Julio-Carrasco smiled and

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Inmates Use Jail Time For Education


Johannesburg – More than 11 600 prison inmates are participating in adult education and training (AET) programmes, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Wednesday.

“Prisons are now correctional centres of rehabilitation,” Ndebele said in a statement.  Image courtesy

“Offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance towards becoming ideal citizens.”

He said his department was going all-out to make sure that inmates could become productive citizens on their release.

In April, Ndebele announced the compulsory registration for all inmates without a qualification equivalent to Grade Nine to complete the AET’s levels one to four.

“In September, 302 offenders, who completed various education and skills development programmes, graduated at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre,” the minister said.

“This included 49 inmates who participated in the artisan development skills programme and qualified as artisans.”

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Florida Prisons Offer Online Education

Pensacola, FL (PRWEB) August 06, 2013 

Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and Superintendent of Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE), announces that the school district will soon expand its operations as an official provider of online education for inmates in Florida prison facilities. The Florida Department of Corrections (FLDOC) named SHCOE as an official provider of online education for inmates in Florida prison facilities in February of 2012, and the program went live at the Madison Correctional Institution in April and at the Lowell Annex in May of that year. These programs were the first online secondary education programs at any correctional facility in the United States and have produced 68 graduates to date.  Image courtesy

Now, preparations are underway for an impending expansion into five additional facilities.

“From the time we received our AdvancED/SACS accreditation in 2011, we had this goal of serving inmates in correctional facilities,” Dr. Liebman said. “I believe our leading-edge online program offers an effective approach to lowering recidivism and preparing inmates to rejoin society in a productive manner. SHCOE’s goal is to be the leading provider of education and career training for corrections facilities across the country.”

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Prison Education and the Benefits to Taxpayers

By Christopher Zoukis

As prisons across the United States continue to experience overpopulation, there has been increasing concern among taxpayers regarding the ultimate costs of incarcerating so many individuals. Critics point to unsustainable incarceration numbers, huge costs and static crime rates as reasons why the criminal justice system needs to be seriously reformed.  Image courtesy

A vocal minority of experts and media analysts, who see prison education as the best route to reform the system, is seeking to increase public awareness and challenge the status quo.

Critics of the criminal justice system can usually agree on several things: costs are way too high, too many people are crowded into jails and prisons, and far too many felons who are released end up committing crimes and reentering the criminal justice system. Developing ways to reform the system typically focus on one of these areas, such as lowering the overhead costs of running prisons, the privatization of prisons, changing laws to reduce the number of incarcerated persons or focusing on reduced rates of recidivism. Gaining public support for any of these initiatives can be difficult, however, as there are always concerns of both costs and the impact on public safety.

The challenges of reducing recidivism

Proponents of prison education have focused their attention on lowering recidivism rates. Doing so, they argue, will alleviate prison crowding and save taxpayers considerable amounts of money. To adequately reduce recidivism, however, the focus must be on why a majority of felons end up returning to jail.

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BU’s Prison Education Program Thrives Despite Pell Grant Ban

By Emily Payne

Boston University students know their acronyms, and from their college names to where to grab some lunch, it seems as if everything is shortened to a cryptic, insider code. Here’s one that is less known: PEP. Type that into the BU search bar and you’ll find pages on the Pep Band, Professional Education Programs, and Pre-Engineering Programs. But “” will take you to a place where students are less likely to visit: the BU Prison Education Program. Turns out that Boston University is one of the leaders of prison education in Massachusetts, a sector of higher education that has been struggling to stay afloat.

Back in 1994, Congress passed a major crime law amendment which banned prisoners from receiving Pell Grants, a major source of federal aid. The misconception of the time was that giving prisoners Pell Grants reduced the amount of aid available to non-criminals. In reality, according to The Real Cost of Prisons Project, only 25,000 of 4.7 million available Pell Grants had been distributed to prisoners in that year, which comes out to about 0.5% of the funds. Nonetheless, because of the controversy surrounding the cause and the many misconceptions of its use, the aid diminished.

But why should we care if criminals get an education, you say? After all, we all stayed out of prison (for the most part) so that we could go to a university, receive our degrees, obtain successful jobs, etc. Well, according to a report of the Institute of Higher Education in 2005, higher education for prisoners “remains a crucial strategy in efforts to reduce recidivism and slow the growth of the nation’s incarcerated population.” Basically, a higher education provides an outlet for prisoners and gives them options upon release. They leave prison in a better position to hold a job and become an upstanding citizen, rather than revert back to the lifestyle that led them to prison to begin with.

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Finding Meaning as an Inmate Instructor

By Andrew Chen

As an inmate tutor at a federal prison, I get one of three responses when I answer another inmate’s inquiry as to where I work.  In order of increasing frequency these are: first, a shrug and a nod — a somewhat reluctant acknowledgement that being a tutor is probably a commendable thing to be doing; second, a “Why would you want to do that?  I would not have the patience to attempt to teach a bunch of half-wits who don’t want to learn anyway”; or, third, by far the most common response, “For real?  I really need some help with my math and essay writing.” 

So why did I choose to become an inmate tutor, and was it a good decision?   The answer is one that requires some context.  It took me three years to move through the U.S. judicial system from arrest to arrival at my designated federal prison facility; three years of being confined to a succession of wholly indoor, steel and concrete cell blocks with perhaps a hundred other anxious federal inmates and a couple of televisions for company; three years during which there was no opportunity to do any meaningful work, or to participate in any educational or vocational courses.

It’s fair to say that I’m not a typical inmate.  I’m a workaholic with two doctorate degrees, and an almost compulsive drive to always be doing something meaningful.  Watching TV and playing cards all day really didn’t cut the mustard for me.  Thankfully, I was able to find enough suitable books through the prison book carts and from friends outside, to study literature and history, two subjects I had never really had the time for since leaving school.  Still, it felt like a rather self-absorbed pursuit, and I yearned to do something that would allow me to make more meaningful contributions to my newfound community, the federal prison community.

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GED Teacher Shortage for Incarcerated Students is a Social Crime

By Dianne Walker

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.

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In Search of Post-Secondary Prison Programs — Ray Brook

By George Hook

I did not want to blow the whistle.  I just wanted to search for available post-secondary prison programs.  I thought the best place to start was with any statement in that regard made by the Bureau of Prisons’ overseer, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”).  What I found was this statement from Bridges to Opportunity–Federal Adult Education Programs For the 21st Century Report to the President on Executive Order 13445, U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education, dated July 2008 at p.18:

“Federal Prison Inmate Scholarship U.S. Department of Justice, Inmate Paid Postsecondary U.S. Department of Justice Education ProgramRay Brook, N.Y. The purpose of the Inmate Paid Postsecondary Education Program is to provide inmates incarcerated at the Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education programs and receive college credits from the North Country Community College in Saranac Lake, N.Y [3 miles away]. The program serves approximately, 50–60 federal inmates housed at the federal correctional institution. Federal inmates are not eligible to receive Pell Grants to fund postsecondary studies. The Education Department at the Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution has established a partnership with the local community college to offer an on-site college program. Professors provide instruction to the inmate in the prison setting. Inmate students receive community college credits that are transferable to the State University of New York. Inmates pay for the costs of tuition and books from personal funds. The program enhances educational program options for inmates, allowing them to pursue a college degree without using federally appropriated funds.”

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Evaluating Applicants for Inmate Instructor Positions

By Christopher Zoukis

Effectively evaluating inmates who are interested in becoming classroom tutors or instructors is a challenging — but — essential task.  This is because the health of your very classroom depends on finding the right fit, an inmate who is experienced enough to teach the subject at hand, motivated enough to continue putting in the time and effort day after day, and passionate enough to be patient with incarcerated students who might not be very accessible, friendly, or open to learning.  You’re looking for a needle in a haystack.  But with several concepts in mind and a roadmap in hand, this process can turn from a tumultuous experience to one of certainty and clarity.

What follows is that roadmap.  These are some of the components you should consider when evaluating applicants for inmate instructor positions.

Prior Experience: In my mind, prior experience is the top selection criteria.  Teaching in the prison context is not an easy task, and inmate learners are not always the most willing of students.  As such, an experienced hand is usually best.  If an inmate has had a positive prior teaching experience in the correctional setting, this person brings those prior skills with them to the table.  Likewise, those who have taught outside of prison are a tremendous resource since most people don’t go into the teaching profession for the money.  As such, they likely had, and might still possess, a passion for teaching.  This can only be a plus for your classroom.

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Prison Education Beyond GED and ESL — Overview

By George Hook

The BOP Central Office  Division of Industries, Education, and Vocational Training is ultimately responsible for education and vocational training programs within the Bureau of Prisons, but each Federal prison has its own education department providing educational activities to federal prisoners. The Division manages Adult Continuing Education (ACE) activities, which are formal instructional classes designed to increase prisoners’ general knowledge in a wide variety of subjects, such as writing and math, which is part of the overall budget and does not have its own distinct funding stream. Correctional institutions receive funds for educational programs through the regional BOP offices. 

The BOP has published an Occupational Training Programs Directory.  The Introduction to the Directory states that the Directory is updated annually.  However, the date on the cover of the only Directory available currently is September, 2006.  The Directory of that date lists occupational training and apprenticeship programs offered to prisoners in all the federal facilities.  

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