The Role of Education in Reducing Recidivism

Schools vs. Prison: Officials Discuss Whether the Twain Can Meet

Monday, September 9, 2013
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Educators and law enforcement came together on the acropolis of Santa Barbara City College to talk recidivism Thursday afternoon. Convened by SBCC trustee Peter Haslund, a retired political science professor, attendees included Sheriff Bill Brown; chair of the Santa Barbara County Reentry Committee, Rick Roney; instructor of courses for parolees, Noel Gomez; and Dean Marilyn Spaventa.

Motivated by current events – the state is currently considering rival proposals to address a federal order to reduce the prison population – Haslund would like to explore how the educational system can help alleviate a metastasized corrections system. “If we can work together to reduce the rate of recidivism, all of us in California will be better off,” he said.

Spaventa said that about 140 inmates participate in the educational program that City College provides at the County Jail. When visiting recently, she by chance met a student who scored 100 percent on her GED exam. City College also provides a summer program for parolees with the goal of having them enroll in a degree or vocational program. “This summer,” said Gomez, “was the most successful we’ve had.” Out of 25 students, 22 enrolled for fall courses. Marsha Wright, director of the Equal Opportunity Programs Office at SBCC, opined that because the economy is better and jobs more available, academically-inclined students self-selected this year.

After hearing about the some of the positive outcomes, however, Haslund remarked that parolees who seemingly got on the straight and narrow need both an “inner commitment” and the “experience of success.” Roney, who helped kickstart the Day Reporting Center reentry program for parolees, added that they need personal relationships as well. “If you don’t have the relationship, it’s not going to work,” he said.

Vice President of City College, Jack Friedlander, asked why people drop out of such programs. Gomez said that there were several reasons, but substance abuse was a big one. Both he and Sheriff Brown said that relapse is part of recovery. Brown also warned that there must be a balance of approaches to the corrections system. While recidivism rates can be reduced, he said, not everybody is open to becoming a law-abiding citizen. “Some people will continue to offend,” said the Sheriff who has put much effort into raising funds for a North County branch of the Santa Barbara County Jail. On October 9, he will seek permission from the County Supervisors to apply for a grant — which maxes out at $40 million — to add on to that branch.

Replicating some of the services offered by City College at Alan Hancock College, everybody agreed, would also be an easy way to increase educational services, especially because the majority of the jail population is from North County. While Haslund was happy enough to have everybody in the room meet each other, that seemed to be one of the more concrete takeaways.

“If I could dream about a next step,” said SBCC President Lori Gaskin, her institution could provide an “ongoing sustainable model with full-time staff.” As of now, Transitions is funded privately. Friendlander pointed out that the college needs to focus on its core mission. But if Darryl Steinberg’s plan to address recidivism by investing $200 million into prevention and intervention, Friedlander said, funds might become available. If Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to spend even more by contracting out to private prisons, Haslund pointed out, state spending on corrections would outstrip spending on higher education.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

No word on how such programs affect recidivism rates? If the matter didn't come up, the reporter should have mentioned that.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 7:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

“The dropout rate is driving the nation’s increasing prison population, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness,” said Marc H. Morial, the former New Orleans mayor who is president of the National Urban League, one of the groups in the coalition that commissioned the report. “This report makes it clear that every American pays a cost when a young person leaves school without a diploma.”

The report puts the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000. Mr. Sum said that figure took into account lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime.

Education has been shown to reduce street crime - it has not been shown to reduce white collar crime, as is practiced by Wall Street and other CEO types.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Adonis_Tate: You (or Sheriff Brown, county sup's, etc) can answer your question in less than a minute.
There's no question that education, substance abuse therapy, and job training and placement reduce recidivism.
There's no question that communication and contact with family and friends reduces recidivism.
There's no question that Sheriff Brown supports policies that increase recidivism. The members of his Blue Ribbon Committee on Jail Overcrowding who are members of the correctional officer's union that has opposed all policies that reduce recidivism for decades, CCPOA, representing prison guards and probation officers, and the private consulting company he hired whose specialty is incarceration, not rehabilitation or reducing recidivism, support Brown's efforts to increase recidivism. › News and Events › News Releases › 2013‎
Aug 22, 2013 - Employment after release is 13 percent higher among prisoners who ... Education and Vocational Training in Prisons Reduces Recidivism, ... › Briefing Room‎
Aug 22, 2013 - The Common Law is the Will of Mankind Issuing from the Life of the People ... New Research Showing Prison Education Reduces Recidivism, ...
Education Reduces Crime, Three-State Recidivism Study - Executive Summary is published through a partnership between Correctional Education Association ...
5. Because incentives affect human behavior, policies for both
offenders and the corrections system must align incentives with
our goals of public safety, victim restitution and satisfaction, and
cost-effectiveness, thereby moving from a system grows when
it fails to one that rewards results.
6. Criminal law should be reserved for conduct that is either
blameworthy or threatens public safety, not wielded to grow
government and undermine economic freedom.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A little late and a few dollars short. SBCC canceled a successful donor-funded jail program just a few years ago. Now they are back on the docket again? Live and learn.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 5:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No mention of parents not doing such a great job of raising their kids?

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 6:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The members of his Blue Ribbon Committee on Jail Overcrowding who are members of the correctional officer's union" ~ 14noscams.

Please provide proof of that or admit you just make up facts to insinuate conspiracies. I remember pretty much who's on that committee and there were no ties to any union. More BS from this guy.

Validated (anonymous profile)
September 9, 2013 at 6:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

14noscams, could you repeat that?

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
September 10, 2013 at 7:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I dont know. If being locked up in a 6ft cell, stuffed into rooms of angry men, getting raped and beaten are not motivation enough to change your behaviors and stay out of jail I am not sure how reading the classics will help.

These career criminals are just bad apples. They actually like being stuffed into cells, being raped and beaten and having no real need to care for themselves. No other reasons can be attributed to a culture of criminals and their love of jail... They actually like being in prison.

Sane people, smart people, normal people do not, will not and wont ever like being institutionalized.

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 12:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Validated: Think you can figure out how to find the report on SBSO?
We can always count on a display of anti-social personality characteristics from le, but it's surprising how idiotic you choose to represent yourself in bs libel attempts.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
September 13, 2013 at 4:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

truly agree on your points. It is reducing recidivism and people are now actually taking it seriously. I got to heard a lot about it at and a deep research has been done on that.

eduhelp (anonymous profile)
September 21, 2013 at 2:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Education is very important nowadays to get job. There are many professional who don’t have college degree and they are facing many Problems in their career promotion and progress. Well I personally recommend people to get education before entering job market or If you working then you can degree from Life Experience degree Program.

orooob2 (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 3:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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