News

The Prison Creative Arts Project

Imagine being sentenced to prison and spending long days and weeks, months and years without the ability to express your creativity. Many incarcerated inmates face day to day boredom, which can contribute to an eroded sense of self-worth and confidence.

The Prison Creative Arts Project was founded in 1990 whose mission is “to collaborate with incarcerated adults and youth as well as urban youth and formerly incarcerated citizens to strengthen community through creative expression.”

“the advantages of growth for the prisoners spill over to their families in allowing them to see their loved one gain self-confidence and pride and shed what can sometimes be overwhelming feelings of despair and destitution.”

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Second Chance Act in Peril

Imagine being newly released from prison, only to find yourself on the streets with no money, perhaps no place to live and no skills to find a job. Studies show that this can seriously lead to recidivism–the  released prisoner returning to prison as they have no other way to survive.

In 2009 the Second Chance Act was signed into law to help improve the outcomes for people who are returning to communities from prisons and jails. The bill authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and many other services that can help fight recidivism.

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PrisonEducation.com Engages Blogger

By Christopher Zoukis

I’m very proud to alert you about a new staffing acquisition. In an effort to become more timely and professional, PrisonEducation.com has brought on a staff blogger. This blogger – who was acquired through our website management firm Intimo Media – will be scouring the web on a daily basis for breaking prison education news and policy changes. She will be posting this news twice a week to PrisonEducation.com.

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Bard Prison Initiative

In 1860, Bard College was founded, then known as St. Stephens’s College overlooking the Hudson River in New York. The college began as a preperation for men to enter into seminaries, and over the years until present time, have evolved their curriculum into “higher intellectual and artistic goals.” The very prestigious Bard College of today, embraces science, arts, music, dance, film and other liberal arts academia. 

The Institute of Writing & Thinking was born from visionaries within Bard College and in 1999, many of the founders of this particular Institute formed the Bard Prison Initiative. 

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Idaho's Department of Corrections Education System

Within the prison walls of Idaho’s Department of Corrections Facilities, is a school that has helped over 500 inmates receive their GED’s as well as 10 inmates who received their high school diplomas. The school is called the Robert Janss School and is accredited through the Idaho Department of Education and operates within seven of Idaho’s Correctional Facilities throughout the state.

Once offenders are enrolled in the Robert Janss School’s program, they will progress through education in this order: Literacy or Secondary Education, Workforce Readiness, Workforce Skills, and On the Job Training. Inmates who are in the school’s program will be able to practice their new education skills at the Correctional Facility they are incarcerated at and use them for work projects and at Correctional Work Centers.

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Inmates in Texas Prison Study for the Ministry

The Southwestern Baptist Theology Seminary located in Houston Texas, has teamed up with one of Texas’s maximum security prisons, Rosharon, to allow a select few inmates to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Studies.

The program, which is supported by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Southwest Theological Seminary, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Heart of Texas Foundation, enrolled it’s first students on Monday, Aug. 29th, 2011. The seminary, which is currently being held at Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Darrington Unit in Rosharon, has accepted 40 inmates for this non-denominational program.

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"Zero Percent" Hudson Link Documentary

Following the last review of Hudson Link For Higher Education In Prison, we would like to introduce further a fabulous trailer to the documentary “Zero Percent”, which focuses on the college program inside Sing Sing correctional Facility in New York state.

What is really exciting about “Zero Percent” is the accolades and awards that the documentary is winning. “Zero Percent” has won the first-ever Silver Heart Award at the Dallas International Film Festival; the Best documentary at the Breckenridge, Bronx and Las Vegas Film Festivals, the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and an Indie Award of Excellence. Wow! That is a lot of accolades and awards.

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Hudson Link-For Higher Education In Prison

Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York faced severe challenges when in 1998 all state and federal funding for prison college education came to a screeching halt. The loss of higher education programs in the facility was having a devastating effect on prisoners morale.

Administrators and staff reached out to religious and academic volunteers for help and through the vision and leadership of Dr. Anne Reissner, Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison was founded and higher education for prisoners incarcerated at Sing Sing was restored through private funding. 

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California to Redesign Prison Education Programs

With California suffering severe financial crisis, it seems inevitable that the California’s prison education system would be hard hit. This past spring, state officials decided to revamp and redesign the prison education classes statewide, after a myriad of complaints that the programs are poorly designed and could leave inmates ill-prepared for life after release. 

According to a draft report by the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board, ongoing problems include “increased class size, reduced time in class, administrative paperwork, student turnover, wrongly assigned students, inmate homework and elimination of some vocational education programs.”

California prison teachers often struggle with enormous class sizes, with as many as 150 students per class and only three hours of classroom instruction per week. A proportion size of that ratio, makes effective teaching and attention to students needs very difficult.

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The Bigger Picture of Recidivism

Recidivism is a term that is frequently used in regards to incarcerated prisoners that have been rearrested. The term recidivism [ri-sid-uh-viz-uh’m] originates from the Latin recidiv, meaning to relapse, recur or fall.

In modern terms, recidivism means a repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime. The term often applies to released prisoners that after returning to the community, re-offend the same crime they were originally incarcerated for and are sent back to prison.

The question comes up-why would recidivism even occur? A prisoner does his/her required time in prison, is released, only to offend again and get reincarnated? Opinions vary widely on this subject.

Will longer sentences reduce recidivism? Those advocating longer sentences believe that while incarcerated, the offending prisoner can not reoffend while locked up.

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