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Reentry - Education

"Across the country, students in the juvenile justice system are struggling in school. Research suggests that many enter the juvenile justice system well behind grade-level. In the absence of thoughtful programming, once they enter the juvenile justice system, they may fall further behind. Too many end up dropping out of school upon return to their communities. This publication examines one particular initiative that has shown great success in combating this problem—the Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance (PACTT)—and provides suggestions for replication in juvenile justice programming across the country. It also sets forth ideas for collecting data to measure the success of initiatives like PACTT and embedding in policy the general reform principles PACTT identified" (p. 5). The following parts are contained in this toolkit: introduction—the national context, and launching a project; PACTT practice components—creating a rigorous and relevant academic program, supporting students in career-readiness, seamless transitions and effective re-entry, and tracking data to serve individual students, improve programs, and inform policy; complying with the law and pursuing policy change; and conclusion. Tools included are: "Tool I: PACTT Components Checklist";" Tool II: A Checklist for Policies that Support PACTT Principles"; "Tool III: PACTT Data Logic Model" by Michael Norton and Tracey Hartmann; "Tool IV: PACTT Data Measures" by Norton and Hartmann; Tool V: Digest of Key Federal Laws"; :Tool VI: Desk Manuals on PACTT for Career and Technical Education Specialists and for Academic Specialists" by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services; "Tool VII: Sample PACTT Affiliate Agreement"; "Tool VIII: PACTT Employability/Soft Skills Manual" by Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance (PACTT); and "Tool IX: Federal Policy Recommendations" by Juvenile Law Center, Open Society Foundations, Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance, the Racial Justice Initiative, and the Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative.

Building Brighter Futures: Tools for Improving Academic and Career/Technical Education in the Juvenile Justice System Cover

Sarah K. Hogarth, editor. Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (New York, NY)


This report explores the lived experiences of previously incarcerated students when they come to college. It documents what these students report as the factors that encouraged and supported them, and the factors that discouraged and, in some cases, blocked their transitions to college and their achievements there. Utilizing participatory research methods, this report highlights the voices of these students and draws on their knowledge to offer invaluable insight into the collateral consequences—economic, structural, racial, familial, and personal—of mass incarceration.

"Technology has transformed the way we approach most daily tasks and activities. It plays a role in how we apply for and perform on a job, communicate with friends and family, access government and other services, manage our finances, and purchase entertainment. Technology also enables our learning … The policies and practices of federal, state, and local corrections agencies, including the juvenile justice system, severely hinder the ability of correctional education programs to enable learning through technology … The primary concern about adopting educational technology in corrections is the potential for security breaches. Other reasons include, but are not limited to, insufficient resources and staff capacity to purchase, implement, maintain, and monitor advanced technologies … This report is designed to inform federal, state, and local corrections and correctional education administrators as they explore ways to securely and cost effectively provide advanced technologies in corrections facilities to help strengthen and expand educational and reentry services. It describes the current status of these technologies in corrections, existing and emerging approaches to providing such services in facilities, and the successes and challenges of early implementers. The report concludes with a set of recommendations that align with the National Education Technology Plan’s five overarching goals" (p. 1-3). Sections of this report include: introduction; overview; current status of advanced technologies in corrections; mobile device vendors providing educational technology in corrections; successes and challenges of early implementers; international use of technology in correctional education delivery; recommendations for adopting educational technology in corrections; information technology terminology; and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Policy on Internet Access to Prisoners.

Educational Technology in Corrections, 2015 cover

“In this report, we [the authors] examine the evidence about the effectiveness of correctional education for incarcerated adults in the United States. By correctional education, we mean the following: adult basic education (ABE): basic skills instruction in arithmetic, reading, writing, and, if needed, English as a second language (ESL); adult secondary education (ASE): instruction to complete high school or prepare for a certificate of high school equivalency, such as the General Education Development (GED); vocational education or career and technical education (CTE): training in general employment skills and in skills for specific jobs or industries; and postsecondary education (PSE): college-level instruction that enables an individual to earn college credit that may be applied toward a two-year or four-year postsecondary degree. Although some may consider life skills programs a part of correctional education, our project focuses specifically on the four types of academic and vocational training programs summarized above. We also limit our focus to correctional education programs provided in the institutional setting, as opposed to postrelease or community-based programs. Finally, our focus is on correctional education programs provided at the state level” (p. 1). Six chapters comprise this report: introduction; study methodology; the relationship between correctional education and recidivism; the relationship between correctional education and employment; the relationship between computer-assisted instruction and academic performance; and conclusions. Inmates who participated in correctional education programs recidivated 43% less, were 13% more likely to find jobs post-release, and learned just as well using computer-assisted instruction as being taught face-to-face. Appendixes provide summaries of the studies included in the recidivism, employment, and computer-assisted instruction meta-analyses.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults Cover

Starting in 1994 with the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, students in state and federal prisons were barred from accessing Pell Grants, which provide financial aid for postsecondary education. In July 2016, the Second Chance Pell Experiment reinstated Pell Grant eligibility for some incarcerated students.

Vera is currently working with correctional institutions and their partnering colleges and universities selected for the experiment to provide quality postsecondary education in a corrections setting. This fact sheet is to inform corrections leaders of the benefits of postsecondary education and to explain how the Second Chance Pell Experiment works. 

Rampey. Bobby D., Shelley Keiper, Leyla Mohadjer, Tom Krenzke, Jianzhu Li, Nina Thornton, and Jacquie Hogan. National Center for Education Statistics (Washington, DC).

"The U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults was designed to provide information to policymakers, administrators, educators, and researchers who are developing education and training policies and programs for incarcerated adults. This report highlights data from the survey’s extensive background questionnaire and direct assessments of cognitive skills. It examines the skills of incarcerated adults in relationship to their work experiences and to their education and training in prison" (p. 1).

This study examines the effectiveness of correctional education for adults and for juveniles, and the challenges associated with this programming. Five chapters are contained in this report: introduction; whether correctional education for incarcerated adults is effective; a systematic review of correctional education programs for incarcerated juveniles—results for corrective reading, computer-assisted instruction, personalized and intensive instruction, other remedial instruction programs, vocational/career technical education, and GED completion; RAND Correctional Education Survey—results for correctional education programs today, funding and the impact of the 2008 recession, postsecondary education, use of technology and preparedness for implementation of the 2014 GED exam, and outcome indicators and postrelease measures of success; and conclusion and recommendations. "The results of the meta-analysis are truly encouraging. Confirming the results of previous meta-analyses—while using more (and more recent) studies and an even more rigorous approach to selecting and evaluating them than in the past—the study shows that correctional education for incarcerated adults reduces the risk of postrelease reincarceration (by 13 percentage points) and does so cost-effectively (a savings of five dollars on reincarceration costs for every dollar spent on correctional education). And when it comes to postrelease employment for adults—another outcome key to successful reentry—researchers find that correctional education may increase such employment … Overall, this study shows that the debate should no longer be about whether correctional education is effective or cost-effective but rather on where the gaps in our knowledge are and opportunities to move the field forward" (p. iii-iv).

How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here? The Results of a Comprehensive Evaluation Cover

Suitts, Steve, Katherine Dunn, Nasheed Sabree. Southern Education Foundation (SEF) (Atlanta, GE).

According to the report, juvenile justice programs that help prevent young people from becoming re-offenders could save society about $3.9 million per youth. This report highlights several programs showing that education in juvenile justice programs can be successful.

Delaney, Ruth, Ram Subramanian, and Fred Patrick. Vera Institute of Justice. Center on Sentencing and Corrections (New York, NY).

"To support the implementation of new partnerships and strengthen existing ones, this report compiles lessons from the field, offering implementation guidance to programs seeking to develop, expand, or enhance postsecondary educational programming in corrections settings" (p. 6).

Tolbert, Michelle, Laura Rasmussen Foster, Matthew DeMichele, and Stacey Cataylo. National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCiCTE) (Research Triangle Park, NC).

"This report is designed to document information currently available on programs that prepare individuals for nondegree credentials in adult corrections facilities" (p. 1).

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