How Expanding Prison Education Funding Reduces Recidivism

by Caitlin Curley, GenFKD

One of the many consequences of the tough on crime era has been continuous cuts to prison education funding, which has furthered the cycle of mass incarceration and will continue to do so until federal and state governments reverse the trend.

What we know

We know that a lack of education is one of the things that leads people into incarceration. We know that illiteracy also lands people in prison and restricts their opportunities once they get out. We can say with certainty, based on numerous studies, that offering some form of education, whether it be high school and GED classes, vocational programs or college courses, can have a huge impact on people once they are released.

But despite the fact that prison reformists and researchers know that education in prison helps, the programs continue to lack the funding needed to make education available to all prisoners who need it. It’s time we talk about why.

State budget cuts have made prison education a victim

When it comes to corrections, every state has a different budget and a different system, and states have discretion to cut funding when deemed necessary. Unfortunately, as state corrections budgets have been cut in the past decade, there has been a trend of reducing prison education programs as a result.

In 2009, when California’s corrections budget was reduced by a whopping $1.2 billion, the state opted to cut their corrections education by 30 percent to balance out the budget. In 2011, Texas dropped its corrections education budget by around 27 percent.

These types of cuts have had…

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