Impacts of Educational Programs on Recidivism Rates, Paper Example

Published: 2022-12-08
Impacts of Educational Programs on Recidivism Rates, Paper Example
Type of paper:  Dissertation chapter
Categories:  Education Justice Criminal justice
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1733 words
15 min read


There is a growing concern in contemporary society over the increasing number of incarcerations. As per 2016, Wagner and Rabuy estimate that the prison population in the United States stands at more than 2.3 million people. A significant number of the 2.3 million consists of second-time offenders who were once in jail and repeated their crime or committed other crime. To be precise, it is estimated that approximately 600,000 prisoners are released every year from prisons countrywide. Out of the 600,000 offenders, estimates point to figures close to 70% of the number being re-arrested within five years of their release. This has impacted in the ever-increasing population in prisons and other correctional facilities. Maintaining the correctional facilities with the massive prison population is costly to the government with huge expenditure that is an additional burden to the taxpayer. Kyckellan (2015) while citing a 2012 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics asserts that the government spent more than $84 billion in correction facilities across all state prisons in 2011.

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In light of the data provided above, debates have risen across the public sphere with an agenda on how the rate of incarceration can be reduced. Top among these debates is recidivism and its impacts in increasing prison populations. The discussions have since recognized that prison life as a form of punishment is not adequate and the necessity to introduce programs that can help counter recidivism (Lockwood, Nally, Ho, & Knutson, 2012). Correctional education programs have been undertaken as a measure towards changing the conduct of offenders to align their behaviour with the law and turn them into productive members of society. On the minimum, proponents argue that educating offenders to help them change their behaviour and a measure towards the reduction of recidivism (Price, Martin, & Robertson, 2010). This research seeks to investigate the impacts of correctional education programs and their effect on recidivism rates.

Background of the Study

An effective justice system should guarantee the safety of the country's citizens while at the same time relatively reducing the criminal activities through the application of costs, whether direct or indirect to the offenders. Some of the measures that the government uses in conjunction with the justice system to reduce cases of crime include the application of monetary sanctions, incarceration, and probations while at the same time taking into consideration the costs involved. In the United States, however, the high costs incurred by the government relative to the achievement of the intended motive of correcting the behaviours of the prisoner's casts doubt on the efficiency of the system. The total costs associated with crime includes a loss in monetary form to victims and the fear and pain the victims undergo. Crimes also amount to other indirect costs including a significant decline in property valuation and even a loss of economic opportunity (DeFina & Hannon, 2013). The costs also include the amounts spent in incarceration including the provision of health services, education, food, and clothing among others. As a result of the high costs associated with the justice's system and the correctional department, it is essential to have an effective correctional system that reduces crime cases consequently reducing the costs borne by the government.

In the traditional setting, crime is considered proof of the idea that it pays for its perpetrators. Consequently, as a measure to reduce crime cases, the government aims to increase the costs of crime perpetration and appeal. Incarceration is expected to raise the costs associated with crimes. However, the rising number of cases of imprisonments is evidence of the decline in the marginal effects of criminal behaviour. Essentially, this means that higher rates of incarcerations incapacitate the offenders on the verge of lower risk. Contextually, higher incarceration rates result in lower public safety benefits. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the application and implementation of other measures in crime reduction and the resulting benefits to the general public. One of the actions that the government may effectively use in combating crime is through a decrease in recidivism cases by increasing correctional education.

Studies have continuously indicated that correctional education in prisons significantly reduces rates of recidivism. According to Davis et al. (2013), the primary achievement of correctional education is through a provision of skills that increase the chances of post-incarceration employment. This idea is supported by Brazzel et al. (2009) who states that statistically, offenders who take part in correctional education stand a higher chance of employment compared to non-participants. However, there has been a suggestion that post-release employment is most effective with participation in vocational skills training or a mix of vocational skills training and academic education rather than taking part only in academic educational training. Notably, this is the case given that vocational skills equip offenders with hands-on skills, unlike academic training. However, a combination of both skills resulted in the greatest amount of human capital which could be beneficial to society. Davis et al. (2013) however highlight the lack of evidence on the most effective correctional education training skill. A decline in crimes coupled with an increase in rates of employment amounts to a reduction in the costs associated with incarceration. Additionally, it also significantly reduces the strain on the families of the offenders while also dramatically boosting the economy's performance (Hall, 2015). When the justice system reduces crime through education and skills training rather than only through punishment, it results in a varying range of benefits to society.

While correctional education is considered important not only for the offenders but also for the society as a whole, these services are limited in availability across correctional facilities. This scarce availability is primarily as a result of the costly nature the services rendered. Lawmakers and the people in the political cycles often argue against the provisions of these services because they offer free education to offenders at the expense of non-offenders. As per the principle of least eligibility, prisoners should not be treated in any manner that is considered superior to the lowest member of the society. As a result, the overall expenditure allocated to correctional centres has significantly reduced. On the flip side, however, the total spending on prison sentences and the prison facilities themselves has increased considerably while investment on rehabilitative programs such as correctional education has declined (Hall, 2015).

Statement of the Problem

Studies have established that each year, there is an escalation in incarceration rates. The incarceration rates in America surpasses that of other industrialized nations with over 2 million offenders currently serving jail terms. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (2014) as of August 2014, there were around 37, 000 offenders in jails across the state. Considering this is a state that has registered little occurrences of crime, the figures might be overwhelming in places with higher rates of criminal activities such as Chicago. The cost of housing inmates in correctional facilities is high averaging about $30000 per head annually, an upward of over $45 billion (Schmitt, Warner, & Gupta, 2010). This amount does not include other expenses such as the construction of correctional facilities or aftercare services. In addition, there are another 3 million people who are still in the penitentiary system serving either parole or probation. These individuals are on the radar of the justice system being monitored in terms of employment, education and social habits.

American penitentiary system usually follows some programmes such as academic and vocational training as a way of rehabilitating offenders. The notion is that with considerable skills, an offender can acquire employment that can serve as an alternative means of earning a living away from crime. In other words, penologists and educators consider vocational and education programmes as a means of facilitating the reintegration of offenders into society with increased self-esteem and employment skills. Nonetheless, the purpose of education and vocational programs especially in how much public funds it consumes is not without controversy. The debates have been intensified by a 1991 data that indicated that 33% of inmates re-enter prison after their parole is revoked committing even more violent crimes.

The public opinion is concerned with the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programs, and critics claim that there is no evidence proving the effectiveness of correctional education in reducing recidivism rates. The proponents of correctional educations exhort that correctional education helps in crime prevention and correlates that it has a direct impact in reducing recidivism. In research conducted by Duwe and Clark, (2014), it was established that one of the top crime prevention programs that have contributed to the reduction of recidivism to be prison-based education. To back up such findings, Hall (2015) in his research established that a more significant percentage, more than 80% of the current long-term offenders have the skill to integrate and adequately fit into society. However, opposing research indicates that about 50-90 per cent of inmates released will get involved in more crime, get arrested again, resentenced and be reincarcerated in the federal prisons. This study has a foundation in 1991 that indicate a 33% recidivism rate. Prison-based rehabilitation programs consume taxpayers' money. Therefore, this research aims to determine whether correctional education programs impact recidivism rates.

Purpose of the Study

The goal of this research is to gain insight into the impacts of correctional education programs on recidivism rates. The research will focus on correctional education programs that include correctional counselling, vocational training, and General Education Development (GED). The focus of the study will be on a random correctional department where insight relative to what education program is offered there will be assessed. A number of viewpoints on correctional education programs will be provided in the course of the research giving insight onto what is perceived by offenders as useful once they get out of prison. The research exhausts a qualitative inquiry where inmates or offenders are questioned on what they believe to be the correctional education program that can aid in earing employment. Also, the investigation will access what the offenders think should be introduced in the correctional education as well as what profession or job skills they had before their arrest, sentencing and incarceration. Through a comparison of the responses from the inquiry and what program is favoured, the answers to the overarching research question will be the basis of the study.

There are additional studies in existence that has inquired on a similar matter at hand. These studies have been carried out to establish the relationship between correctional education programs and recidivism. Nonetheless, there is little research that has taken an in-depth approach and involved the inmates or offender's perspective in illuminating the impact of correctional education on recidivism.

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