Prisoner Education

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The education of prisoners is a topic that is riddled with complications. One of the major barriers in the way of prisoner education is public indifference and ignorance. It seems that people are almost happy to simply lock people away rather than actually confront problems such as recidivism and community reintegration. Our paper argues that prisoner education is not only a good thing, but is necessary to fix the underlying problems within the United States prison system. There is definitely a lack of education programs in our prison system today. Furthermore, even in those institutions that have education programs have many different problems such as; courses that are interrupted or terminated on the personal whims of prison administrators; the absence of libraries; waiting lists for programs; limited or no access to training in information technology; vocational courses that are dated paths to nowhere. By looking at effective existing programs, field studies at Massachusetts prisons, and actual prisoner interviews we will attempt to outline a model program and argue that educating prisoners is a means by which to help save out failing prison system. As we have talked about in class, the United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, but we also possess one of the highest crime rates. If the previous statement is true, there is an enormous problem with our system, and we believe that education is the key to solving it.

In order to properly critique our prison system it is important to look at existing educational and vocational programs in our area. The Massachusetts Department of Correction’s has a mission statement which reads, “The Massachusetts Department of Correction’s mission is to promote public safety by managing offenders while providing care and appropriate programming in preparation for successful reentry into the community.” They do this by following their four step program “Manage – Care – Program – Prepare.” We found that some of the programs offered may fit this mission, but others need tweaking. The first prison we decided to research was MCI Norfolk. MCI Norfolk utilizes a myriad of different programs, from adult basic education to Welding. However, the sheer number of programs offered does not always indicate a successful educational system. In our research we found that Norfolk, although possessing a wide verity of programs, is one of the worst educational programs in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. However, MCI-Norfolk does offer a few programs that we thought were very unique and would be helpful in designing a model program. For example, MCI Norfolk offers a program called the “Responsible Fatherhood Program” which seeks to raise the awareness of male inmates’ parental responsibility. The program tries to emphasize the value and importance that a father’s presence can have on a child. The program lasts eight weeks and requires a minimum of eight hours of structured curriculum driven activities.

The RFP program works in three stages, with the ultimate goal of reunited father’s with their children, and strengthening their bond as father and child. The “Fatherhood Graduate Maintenance Program” is for graduates of the RFP program, which allows inmates to practice and discuss the skills they were taught in the previous stage. Once they have passed the FGMP stage, the inmate moves onto the Father/Child Visitation Component, which is a structured and staff facilitated visit for inmates who have completed the first two steps of the program. What we liked about this program is not only that it seeks an important goal (preparing inmates to become better fathers), but it is very extensive and requires a lot of dedication from the inmate. Another program that we liked was the “Employment Readiness Program” which is a 10-day workshop that is designed to assist inmates in the development of the necessary skills that are needed for successful transition back into the...
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