From Incarceration to Reentry: A Look at Trends, Gaps, and Opportunities in Correctional Education and Training
On October 28, 2016, CLASP released a new report examining the funding and programming landscape of correctional education and training, along with the implications for continued opportunities through reentry. The report was released on the same day as our related forum, Reconnecting Justice: Pathways to Effective Reentry though Education and Training, the second in a series hosted by CLASP to examine the intersection of criminal justice, education, and jobs through an anti-poverty and racial equity lens.
Over the last 40 years, the number of people incarcerated in the United States has skyrocketed. Largely the result of failed policies and disparities that disproportionately criminalize low-income communities of color, these trends have led to a total of 2.2 million incarcerated people in the United States, a far higher rate of incarceration than that of any other developed nation. This egregiously high level of incarceration did not occur solely by chance. Pipelines to prison have historically been concentrated in low-income communities of color, where environmental, economic, and educational injustices are also pervasive. Likewise, over-criminalization, implicit bias, harsh sentencing policies, and judicial and prosecutorial discretion further perpetuate these pipelines. And a collateral cost of these disparities is low levels of educational attainment, especially for the men and women who end up in prison.
The roots of this crisis are unique and partly steeped in educational inequities. While correctional education and training present a significant opportunity to remedy some of this injustice, it is by no means a panacea for grave systemic injustices. However, improvements to training during and after incarceration can play an important role in improving the educational and employment trajectories of the returning citizens who face greatly restricted opportunities to participate in our economic mainstream.