Sunday, November 18, 2012

Studies Show Low Recidivism Rate for Prisoners Who Receive Formal Education in Prison (Video)

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On her show today, Sunday, Nov. 18, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry featured Sean Pica, the executive director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. His organization provides educational services to men and women in four New York state prisons, according to MHP's MSNBC notes.

MHP said in the introduction to the video segment that "the national rate of recidivism within three years of an inmates release is more than 40 percent, but for the 260 Hudson Link graduates, that number is zero."

In the video, Sean Pica, who went into prison witho only a ninth grade education, talks about his 16 years in prison and how helping his fellow inmates learn to read changed his life. Sensing a purpose, he earned his GED as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees while in prison. The video also features other former inmates who have completed the program and turned their lives around. Pica said education transforms inmates and that most of them enter the social service field and help others after they are released; they begin to give back to their communities.

I saw a similar report on CBS's 60 Minutes a while back. The prisoners in the program featured on that program were receiving a liberal arts education through the Bard Prison Initiative. One prisoner in that report said a liberal arts education did more for prisoners than vocational training because a liberal arts education teaches them how to think: "That's a problem that a lot of men in prison have that they're not thinking, you know, they're reacting. A vocational education might give you the skills to have a job, but it's not going to give you the skills to have a life," he said.

You may watch that video at the BPI website.

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