Target: Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Goal: Advance public safety and help the criminal justice system better serve the American people
In the United States, 700,000 individuals are incarcerated each year. Half of these will return to prison in 3 years’ time. Although this is a frightening statistic, there could be hope: In a government-funded study, correctional education lowered the odds of recidivism (habitual relapse into crime) by 43 percent for adult inmates who participated in the programs. The study also showed that the odds of obtaining employment after release were 13 percent higher for participants in educational programs than non-participants. Both high school/GED education and vocational education were associated with increased odds of post-release employment and decreased odds of recidivism.
Attorney General Holder applauds the research, which he says points to a criminal justice system that “does not serve the American people as it should,” a system by which “as it stands, too many individuals and communities are harmed, rather than helped.”
Conducted by the RAND Corporation with funding from the Second Chance Act of 2007 – the landmark measure aimed at improving the outcome for and response to individuals released from incarceration – this largest of correctional educational studies shows that correctional educational programs are ultimately cost-effective. With every dollar going into prison education, four to five dollars are saved over the course of 3 years, the riskiest period for post-release recidivism.
These findings show the potential and the need to break a vicious cycle within our criminal justice system. As the government researchers and leaders now make clear, we must confront the fact that most incarcerated individuals have lower levels of education attainment; that they often lack vocational skills as well as a steady work history; that being incarcerated interferes with maintaining meaningful, sustained employment; that the stigma toward released individuals is a major barrier to employment. Our government has given us the tools to effect change. Now, we must ensure their use.
Please sign the petition below, and urge the expansion of correctional education programs nationwide.
Dear Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,
I am writing in regards to the recent study by the RAND Corporation on correctional education’s ability to reduce costs, lower the odds of recidivism and boost post-release employment. In a Washington press release on August 22, 2013, you expressed support for such educational programs, noting their efficacy and their potential to have the criminal justice system help more people rather than harm them. I urge you to lead the way in expanding correctional education programs nationwide.
The study’s findings present an opportunity for us to break the vicious cycle within our criminal justice system. As government researchers and you as our nation’s leaders now make clear, we must confront the fact that most incarcerated individuals have lower levels of education attainment; that they often lack vocational skills as well as a steady work history; that being incarcerated interferes with maintaining meaningful, sustained employment; that the stigma toward released individuals is a major barrier to employment. I thank you for giving us the tools to effect change. Now, I wish to prioritize their use.
By enacting widespread prison education programs, you would save money while advancing national public safety. Thank you for demonstrating leadership already in bringing this issue to our attention. We support you in putting this project into action.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: peachtreenorml via peachtreenorml.wordpress.com