California leads the nation in sending former inmates to college. Will other states follow?

The Stanford Criminal Justice Center and the Opportunity Institute released a report last month showing that the state was able to change the prospects for thousands of current and former inmates dramatically through access to higher education.

According to the Stanford report, nearly 4,500 inmates were enrolled in face-to-face community college classes in the fall of 2017 — more than in any other state. Hundreds more were waiting to enroll. But the move to educate prisoners is also new to California. Just three years ago, there wasn’t a single inmate enrolled in a face-to-face community college class inside the state prison system.

“For decades we’ve been locking people up and letting them go, telling them to get a job and getting surprised at high recidivism rates. We need to do something a little bit differently,” Rebecca Silbert, co-author of the Stanford report, told Yahoo News. “Higher ed is not the answer, but it is one answer. If it is a potential answer, we should grasp it and make the best of it.”

Research by PrisonEducation.com and others shows that the likelihood of recidivism is inversely correlated with a former inmate’s level of education. Between 70 and 80 percent of American prisoners return to prison, but this is cut to 13.7 percent for those who have earned an associate’s degree, to 5.6 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree and 0 percent for those with a master’s degree.

According to the RAND Corp., a nonprofit policy think tank, $4 to $5 is saved on incarceration costs for every dollar invested in correctional education.

From Yahoo News.

Read the full article here.

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