Prison Inmate Education

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The article "The Impact of Career and Technical Education Programs on Adult Offenders: Learning Behind Bars" by Howard Gordon and Bracie Weldon (2003) studies of how prisoners receiving educations in prison reduces the recidivism rate. Gordon and Weldon studied the inmates who were participating in the educational programs at the Huttonsville Correctional Center in West Virginia and claimed that inmates who participated in the educational programs were less likely to recidivate once released back into the population as compared to inmates who did not participate in these programs (Gordon & Weldon, 2003). This study provides valuable information as to the effectiveness of educational programs in prison and how they affect prisoner's lives once they are out of prison. I believe that this study is very important because we can then gauge the effectiveness, if any, that these prison education programs have and better judge whether they are useful to have in the prison system. The argument that prisoners who participate in educational programs are less likely to recidivate is a sound argument for the reason that these educational programs teach them basic skills to help them adapt to life and find employment once they are released.

Gordon and Weldon's study shows how prisoners who have completed the General Education Development (GED) program have a significantly lower rate of recidivism. The goal of these educational programs are to achieve six goals: "to provide inmates with basic academic and vocational skills, to provide inmates with an opportunity to change their personal behavior, attitudes, and values, to reduce recidivism, to provide passive control of inmate behavior, to support the operational needs of the correction institute in jobs such as fast food service, building maintenance, grounds keeping, etc..(Gordon et al, 2003)." The author's assume that a higher level of education will prevent an inmate from coming back to prison once they are released back into society. Gordon and Weldon base their assumption on the fact that since these inmates are receiving a higher level of education once they are released they will be able to more easily reintegrate back into society and stay there. The data they gathered to support their claim does support it quite well in the fact that prisoners who have completed both vocational training and their GED have a recidivism rate of 6.71% while inmates who participated in none of the programs have a recidivism rate of 26% (Gordon et al, 2003). This percentage of recidivism for the participants compared to the non participants gave Gordon and Weldon much support for their claim that education makes the recidivism rate go down.

In this study the assumption that inmates who participate in vocational and GED training will run a lower risk of recidivating once they get out is defended, but not by a lot. Gordon and Weldon, only have their results and the results of a few other researchers to support their claims. They do not really touch on studies that may dispute their claims; they only bring up other studies that support their arguments fully. In this argument the authors try to propose a clear cut cause and effect relationship of education directly affecting the recidivism rate of prison inmates; however, there could be other factors such as how many jobs are available at the moment that play a role in the recidivism rate (Gordon et al, 2003). The authors claim is supported by relevant data, being that this study was done from 1999 to 2000 (Gordon et al, 2003). I think that Gordon and Weldon could have made their study more valid if they had chosen random prisons all over the United States so then we could have a wide variety of samples instead of just what is happening in West Virginia. By just using West Virginia they could be making a mistake by just generalizing the inmates of the prison they were studying. Yet, they do make their argument based on the facts of what they found in...
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