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Correctional Education Summit Document Published: Focus on Reentry Education Model

Posted on 01/23/2013

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On Nov.19, 2012, the Office of Adult & Vocational Education (OVAE) (www) brought together more than 60 experts in the field of correctional reentry for adults and juveniles at the Correctional Education Summit. Practitioners, academicians and advocates met with former students and administrators from correctional education, state and federal government, institutions of higher learning and the private sector to discuss critical issues and concerns related to the "reentry" process. Data from the summit indicates that more than 700,000 incarcerated individuals leave federal and state prison systems each year, and sadly, many of those will return to prison within a few years of release. This comes at a huge financial and social cost to individuals, families and the country as a whole.

In an effort to help address this critical area, a document based on the Correctional Education Summit has been published, the Reentry Education Model (pdf), which offers evidence-based guidance for practitioners and educators with the aim of more effectively supporting low-skilled individuals transitioning back into society through education and career advancement. The report's author, Michelle Tolbert of MPR Associates, Inc. states, "Although there is no one answer, a growing body of evidence shows that providing offenders with education and training increases their employment opportunities, addresses their cognitive deficits, and helps reduce their likelihood of recidivating."

The author proposes a model of adult, career, vocational and postsecondary education services that would call for providers to:

  • Align education services with programs in the community or institution and establish articulation agreements.
  • Align programs with labor market and jobs without criminal history restrictions.
  • Offer cognitive-based skills instruction and adopt evidence-based curriculum and instructional practices.
  • Use technology to enhance and increase program access.
  • Provide flexibility in program schedules to accommodate jobs, apprenticeship or other work opportunities.
  • Ensure needed support and employment services are provided through the program or strategic partnerships.
  • Develop a student recruitment and retention strategy.

The 36-page document also provides direction and guidance for establishing strong program infrastructure and effectively integrating education within the corrections system.

OVAE has also recently updated a resource for use with incarcerated/reentering individuals,  Take Charge of Your Future (pdf), which is designed to provide guidance for those on the path to further education and training.

Source: OVAE Connection (www), newsletter of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U. S. Department of Education.

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