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Mission Critical: Correctional Education and Training

Written by Shea Pream, Associate Product Manager at Paradigm Education Solutions

Throughout the U.S., 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons and jails. More than 700,000 people leave prison every year. Unfortunately, within three years of release, 40% will be reincarcerated, according to a report by Rand Corporation.

Do these statistics resonate or what?

While reading these facts, I thought a lot about our mission and values here at Paradigm Education Solutions We strive to help individuals master educational content and strengthen skills, so they are thoroughly prepared to enter today’s workforce and succeed in their communities.

Our commitment aligns well with the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ mission to “provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.”

All of this points to the critical importance of states’ support on educating and training individuals in prison. To reduce such a high recidivism rate, the-greater-we must help ex-offenders gain knowledge, training, and skills to successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Many programs want to drive offenders toward certification of skills and knowledge, whether that leads to the achievement of the GED, proficiency in Microsoft Office, or obtaining a professional license. An equally important initiative is helping ex-offenders gain basic life and soft skills, including self-esteem, as well as job search and work readiness skills.

It goes without saying that achieving these goals can be easier said than done. Through a recent survey we conducted of individuals educating and advising ex-offenders, as well as on-going conversations with our clients, we consistently hear about common learning challenges that incarcerated individuals face while in prison and preparing for reentry into their communities.

For example:

• A lack of literacy skills, including reading, digital, and financial
• Limited access to resources, such as technology and other means of communication
• Short attention spans and insufficient access to engaging and interactive content
• Non-contextualized instruction
• Learning barriers stemming from trauma and substance use disorders
• Education and training resources that aren’t specialized, vetted, or up-to-date

While finding ways to overcome these learning barriers, programs push forward and are developing opportunities to advance correctional education. Politicians and educational institutions are joining together to improve the academic and employment success of offenders, with the main objective of preparing them for a successful reentry.

Tying it all together, we—states, education leaders, and prison reform advocates—can help shatter the recidivism statistics and put current and formerly incarcerated individuals on pathways to success. At Paradigm, we provide tools to help individuals recognize and set action steps to overcome reentry barriers, develop transferable skills, discover career interests, and identify basic life skills.

Learn more about our efforts to improve digital literacy education through our recent work with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide its state-wide incarcerated population with Microsoft® Office applications courseware.

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