“Why Aren’t We Spending More on Prisoner Education?”

The question in the title of this post is the headline of
this notable new commentary
authored by Stephen Steurer now up at The Crime Report. Here is how it starts and ends:

Education reduces crime, plain and simple.

The RAND Corporation underscored the positive impact of education in its 2013 review of the research reports on correctional education over the last couple of decades.  Bottom line from their reports: providing education programs for incarcerated men and women significantly reduces future crime all by itself, separate from any other treatment they receive.

Combined with other effective programs, such as drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling, education can help to reduce crime and recidivism even more effectively. RAND also demonstrated clearly that an education program pays for itself several times over. Every dollar invested in correctional education creates a return of five dollars in the reduction of future criminal justice costs.

So why are we not spending more criminal justice dollars on education?  We literally spend billions on the most expensive — and least effective — option: locking folks behind bars in record numbers….

Positive change can be painfully slow.  However, when the US does become interested in a particular issue, it is amazing how quickly it can retool and redirect its resources.  For those of us old enough to remember, we did it by putting a man on the moon when the Russians threatened US leadership in the space race.  Hopefully, we can redirect ourselves again to help change the direction of the lives of so many people returning to society after years of incarceration.

Education is not rocket science.  We already know how to teach people to read, write, do math and train for jobs.  For the sake of the incarcerated and, literally, for our own health and safety, let’s build and open more school programs in our prisons and jails.  Education does reduce recidivism!…

We continue to need serious political writers, both liberals and conservatives, to urge government and courts to get really “tough on crime” and sentence criminals to do their time in school to straighten out their lives.  We need to literally “throw the book at them.”

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