ERIC Number: EJ1113193
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Online Learning and Recidivism Rates: Commentary
Sellers, Martin P.
International Journal of Leadership in Education, v19 n5 p632-636 2016
Return-to-prison rates are high. This indicates that imprisonment is not succeeding at rehabilitation, however return to prison is significantly reduced when prisoners receive education while in prison, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and other related research (Aos et al., 1999; Brown, Forrester, Hull, Jobe, & McCullen, 2000; Clark & Kim, 2013; Coggeshall, Correa, Burke-Storer, Tidd, & Winterfield, 2009; Lee, Shkodriani, & Spycher, 2012; Smith, Steurer, & Tracy, 2001). Education of inmates not only provides job skills, knowledge, and a positive behavioural disposition toward work, but also supports security and safety within the prison and outside in the community, and improves the economy by improving chances for inmates to fill jobs (Linton, Lockwood, Nally, & Steurer, 2010). Challenges to providing a meaningful college education or training experience for inmates include: (1) insufficient places to study; (2) number of available computers due to risk of technology mis-use; and (3) funding. While solutions are challenging, they do exist. The author recommends that: (1) Pell grants, or other funding mechanisms for inmate post-secondary education participation, be re-instated or implemented; (2) Barriers to use of the internet have to be lifted or work-arounds found; (3) Rethinking restrictions to online learning. Sellers further recommends that states plan for increased online learning by building the cost of technology into their budgets (Lee et al., 2012). He further recommends that numbers and dollar amounts of state and private scholarship programmes be increased (Lee et al., 2012). Prison leadership (administrators, directors, sheriffs and wardens) recognize that educational institutions today increasingly rely on online learning. Prison educational leaders must have vision, a belief in online learning and understand curriculum development in an online landscape (Nworie, 2013). This requires the ability to recognize and move to meet the needs of non-traditional, adult, and protected populations. Leaders in prison education have to be flexible and competent in multiple arenas of technology/ software, as these change rapidly. Sellers concludes his comments by saying that these types of prison education programmes address the currently dismal recidivism rates, help with rehabilitation, and are more likely than current practices to help those exiting prisons to become better contributing members of their communities.
Descriptors: Electronic Learning, Recidivism, Correctional Education, Institutionalized Persons, Postsecondary Education, Barriers, Leadership, Rehabilitation, Costs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A