Reconnecting Justice: Lessons Learned and the Agenda Ahead

Reconnecting Justice: Lessons Learned and the Agenda Ahead, lifts up the strong connections between education, jobs, and criminal justice. Continuing the discussion from CLASP’s Reconnecting Justice forum last fall, the report outlines our agenda for moving forward in the current political climate, where uncertainty surrounds criminal justice reform.

While bipartisan support for criminal justice reform has gained momentum over the past decade, the coordinated focus on education and training for people involved in the justice system is more recent. This is partially attributable to the widely cited RAND correctional education study that found correctional education and training can significantly reduce recidivism and improve post-release employment outcomes. Now, efforts to reduce recidivism and increase employment are being coupled with educational opportunities for current and formerly incarcerated people.

Reconnecting Justice emphasizes the full scope of educational needs for incarcerated people, stressing the importance of seamlessly connecting education and training opportunities from prison to reentry. In addition, we draw attention to the collateral consequences that impact those opportunities, highlighting structural barriers, family and community impacts, and disproportionate impacts on communities of color (especially low-income Black and Latino communities).

CLASP’s report lifts up federal and state opportunities while addressing looming threats from the Trump Administration, which is taking a “law-and-order” approach to these issues. Now more than ever, defending effective strategies to end mass incarceration and strengthen reentry is critically important. This includes education and training strategies, which are proven to break the cycle of recidivism. CLASP recognizes that scaling this approach is complicated. That’s why the report recommends focused investments backed by smart justice reform policies.