RELEASE – New report recommends increasing access to education programs in Nebraska prisons

For Immediate Release                          

December 2, 2015

 

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
(402) 438-8853 (office)
(402) 840-7289 (cell)
jsheldon@neappleseed.org

 

New report recommends increasing access to education programs in Nebraska prisons

Increased access to education will reduce recidivism, lead to new job opportunities after incarceration

 

LINCOLN — Education is essential not just for the individual who acquires knowledge and skills, but also for Nebraska communities in general. Some of the community benefits of education include: lower rates of unemployment, reduced spending on public support programs, reduced crime rates, increased civic engagement, and improved health of society in general.

Education also is a critical part of increasing opportunity for those in Nebraska’s correctional facilities. A new report released today by Nebraska Appleseed, titled “Education for Adults in Nebraska Corrections,” examines education in the corrections system in Nebraska and makes recommendations for improving access to education in order to reduce recidivism, improve employment prospects after incarceration, and make the most-efficient use of our federal, state, and community resources.

“Forty years ago, education was considered the most important tool for the successful rehabilitation of people who were incarcerated, but that focus has sadly been lost in the past decade,” Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director James Goddard said. “Inmates who participate in correctional education programs are 36 percent less likely to be re-incarcerated than inmates who do not participate. That has long-ranging effects on those inmates after they leave the corrections system, their families, and our communities as a whole.”

At a time when Nebraska’s prison system is overcrowded to an alarming degree, improving access to education for inmates is an important step toward reducing the state’s high rate of recidivism, the report states. Nearly one in four Nebraska inmates will return to prison within three years of their release. Improving their skills will help boost Nebraska’s workforce and make it much less likely they are incarcerated again.

“Almost 90 percent of people currently in Nebraska prisons will reenter our communities eventually. They will need jobs and skills to greatly reduce the chance they will be re-incarcerated,” Goddard said. “Investing in prison education programs now will prevent our prison system from becoming a revolving door and will lead to stronger families and the skilled workforce that a robust economy needs.”

The report contains a number of recommendations to improve the corrections education system, including:

  • Track the performance of inmates’ performance in educational programs in relation to post-release recidivism and job performance to determine which educational programs are most effective.
  • Increase capacity and resources of current education programming to ensure more-effective individualized instruction.
  • Make postsecondary education a greater priority and allow inmates at all correctional facilities to have access to postsecondary programs. Female inmates in Nebraska currently do not have access.
  • Continue to expand the vocational and life-skills training program.

For more information, contact Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at (402) 438-8853 or email jsheldon@neappleseed.org.

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