The Benefits of Inmate Education, a New Gang Intervention Partnership, Probation Poetry, and LA Deputy Saves Choking InmateSeptember 16th, 2013 by Taylor Walker
Inmates who receive academic or vocational education while incarcerated are 43% less likely to end up back behind bars within three years than inmates who receive no educational programming, according to a new meta-analysis by Rand Corp.
The study also found that those inmates who receive rehabilitative training have a 13% better chance of employment upon release. And, those who receive job training, specifically, have a 28% higher chance of employment than those who receive neither.
In an op-ed for the LA Times, an author of the study, Lois Davis, says that those numbers would translate to huge state savings—not to mention transformed lives and communities. Here are some clips:
Nationwide, state prison systems are struggling with budget constraints that require tough choices. Cutting rehabilitative services that provide correctional education and vocational training may seem like a tempting way to plug short-term budget gaps, but it actually ends up costing the system more over time — and squandering lives that could have been transformed.
Each year, more than 700,000 people are released from American prisons, but within three years of their release, four out of 10 of them end up back behind bars, guilty of committing new crimes or violating the terms of their release. If prisoners had more access to education and training while incarcerated, those numbers might change dramatically.
My Rand Corp. colleagues and I recently completed a national study examining all the evidence on the effect of correctional education on recidivism and employment. We found that inmates who participated in correctional education programs — remedial education to develop reading and math skills, GED preparation, postsecondary education or vocational training — were 43% less likely to return to prison within three years of release in comparison to those who did not participate. That’s a 13-percentage-point reduction in the risk of reoffending.
We compared the direct costs of correctional education programs with the costs of reincarceration and found that prison education programs save as much as $5 in three-year reincarceration costs for every dollar invested. Put another way, we estimated that to break even, such programs would need to reduce the three-year reincarceration rate by between 1.9% and 2.6%. Yet, we found that participating in such programs is associated with a 13% reduction in the risk of recidivism three years after release from prison.
And these savings estimates are, if anything, conservative: We did not look at the indirect costs of recidivism, such as the financial and emotional tolls on crime victims and the costs to the criminal justice system as a whole, including policing and court costs.
AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF TRAINING AND EDUCATION AS A DETERRENT…
LA Mission College, which provides college-level classes to kids in several LA juvenile facilities, has partnered with a gang intervention group that helps at-risk young people get construction union apprenticeships. The agency, Communities in Schools (founded by WLA’s pal “Blinky” Rodriguez, former champion kickboxer), will now send apprentice program graduates to LA Community College building jobs where they will concurrently receive personal and vocational training courses.
The LA Daily News’ Dana Bartholomew has the story. Here are some clips:
For Javier Franco, it’s a long way from Columbus Street to precalculus at L.A. Mission College.
A member of the notorious Columbus Street Gang, which just received an injunction because of street crimes including drug dealing and murder, the 27-year-old Panorama City student had served long stints in Folsom State Prison.
Then he found moral guidance from a former prizefighter at Communities in Schools in North Hills, a welding job through an apprenticeship at Laborers’ Local 300 — and hope at the Sylmar community college that he could someday succeed.
…now the growing campus, tucked up against the San Gabriel Mountains, is ramping up its community outreach, from a new effort to coax gang members such as Franco into the ivory tower to a new campaign beckoning adults locked up in county jails to take courses in the likes of social ethics and media arts.
Communities in Schools of the San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles soon aims to funnel 100 young adults into training programs run by Laborers’ Local 300 and Southern California Laborers Apprenticeship.
The unions then aim to shuttle graduates into hundreds of Los Angeles Community College District building-program jobs, from pouring concrete foundations to welding structural beams and stairways.
At the same time, college counselors and teachers will be providing personal-development classes, as well as career, technical education and training.
RECOMMENDED READING: NYC PROBATION DEPT. PUBLISHES PROBATIONER POETRY JOURNAL
The NYC Dept. of Probation’s South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) has published a new “Free Verse” poetry journal. The publication was birthed from a program to turn probation clients’ time spent in waiting rooms into something productive and enriching, and soon everyone wanted to get involved. The journal is unique in that it features writings from probationers, their officers, security guards, staff, friends, family, and other community members. (You can read the first issue of “Free Verse” in its entirety here.)
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange’s Gwen McClure has more on NeON’s poetry journal. Here’s a clip:
When John Taylor was sentenced to four years on probation for robbery, he knew he would be required to check in with his probation officer every other week at the South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON). Taylor soon got involved in a GED class–he had been taking classes when he was charged, and wanted to make good use of the hours he spent waiting. Before long, he was spending three days a week at the center because he took a job at the NeON as a writing apprentice.
At 26, it wasn’t Taylor’s first time writing, but he soon found the words were coming more easily to him. And it didn’t take long—less than half an hour after his initial request, in fact—for his friends, mother and aunts to start sharing their work with him as well.
“You can write anything, a poem, a rap song, a story,” he said. “I was impressed myself.”
On Thursday, September 12, the writing apprentices like Taylor, staff and contributors gathered at the South Bronx NeON to celebrate the release of “Free Verse,” the poetry journal they produced. The journal comes from a program that has been running since April, in which people waiting in the probation office can participate in writing and presenting their poetry, to transform dead time into something productive and positive.
Vincent Schiraldi, commissioner for the New York City Department of Probation, said that as a father he saw the importance of letting his children try different activities to find out what they were good at and enjoyed doing. In his position, he said, he sees many people on parole who have never had the opportunity to sample different activities. He said some participants don’t enjoy writing, but have found other ways to be involved, such as setting up sounds systems for the spoken word portion of the events.
Schiraldi is also excited that it’s not just those on probation getting involved—even probation officers have started to write and present their own poems.
“That’s a vulnerability that would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago,” he said.
LA INMATES THANK DEPUTY FOR AIDING CHOKING INMATE
Sixty-three inmates at Century Regional Detention Facility wrote a thank-you letter to LASD Deputy Kristen Aufdemberg for saving the life of an inmate confined to a wheelchair who began choking on her food during a meal late last week.
The LA Times’ Kurt Streeter has the story. Here’s how it opens:
The relationship between inmates and guards at Los Angeles County jails has long been fraught with trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that federal authorities are investigating claims of abuse by prison guards.
But this week dozens of inmates at an L.A. County jail signed a note praising a sheriff’s deputy for saving the life of a choking prisoner.
The note, signed by 63 female inmates at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, praises Deputy Kristen Aufdemberg’s response to a prisoner who began choking on food during a Thursday night dinner.
Aufdemberg ran to the inmate, whose name was not released by the Sheriff’s Department, stood behind her and performed the Heimlich maneuver.
(Nixle has the full thank you letter and a photo of Deputy Aufdemberg.)