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Volume 4, Issue 6, June – 2019 International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology

ISSN No:-2456-2165

Exploring Work and Education in Modern

Corrections as a Recidivism Reduction Strategy
Hugo Renderos, phD., and Kimberley Garth-James, DPA

Abstract:- The primary target of this article are scholars, border employment is high, then offenders returning to the
educators, and practitioners interested in criminal justice labor market will have trouble securing employment. In an
administration efficiency and offender reform. The global unhealthy economy, some of the historical trade-offs
problem of returning contributing ex-offenders to the of employing prisoners that had support lack meaning.
family and community in which they commit crimes and
must be reintegrated is that recidivism and overreliance The economic activity is picking up—for example, in
on incarceration receive considerable attention. The mid-2000s, the unemployment hovers around 3.6%, labor
theoretical modeling of “what works” to help with participation rates are better than 61%, and employment
individual offender reform will expedite the search for numbers for ethnic and racial minority groups are trending
rehabilitation and recidivism-reduction programs. The upwards; the 2007 fears of doom and gloom regarding an
literature review of empirical research and findings unhealthy economy are more optimistic in 2018 according
indicate that education and work can produce expected to the Federal Reserve. Why not explore strategic public-
outcomes for offender reform. This article shows the private partnerships to with offender employability?
convergence of research (1990-2017) regarding the Collaborations (joint ventures, public-private partnerships)
viability of correctional education and prison-based work can be more effective at training prisoners to reduce the
programs to manage corrections efficiency and Employability Risk Factors (ERFs)1, and the Urban Institute
effectiveness. In particular, using a qualitative study has Report (2001) states:
shown changing views about joint venture job readiness
programs that are prison-based. The findings are Even marginal gains in individual recidivism could
interesting, not generalizable; however, worth translate into noticeable safety gains. [I]n Boston…Operation
consideration to advocate for public policies based on Ceasefire “focus attention on the behaviors of individuals
evidence of “what works” in individual offender reform. under criminal justice supervision in a small number of
neighborhoods and resulted in substantial improvements”
I. INTRODUCTION (Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001)

Research indicates that returning a prisoner (or criminal Certainly, citizens interested in Eleuthera want to
offender, exoffender) to society requires readiness for hear more good news about ex-cons coming back into their
successful 324integration which is related to many factors neighborhoods. Additional studies surface such as the
including prison-based education and work training programs Roundtable and Bushway’s findings in Reentry and Prison
(Hughs, 2016; Moses & Smith, 2007; Smith, 2018; Tolbert, Work Programs, William Quigley’s research about decent
2002; Waintrup & Unruh, 2008; Western, Ming, & Welman, work and pay for prisoners in (short title) Prison Work,
2000). Work, or panos, is not new in corrections and can Wages, and Catholic Social Thought, and Frances Simon’s
assist in individual offender reform for those that desire to book, Prisoners’ Work and Vocational Training, explored
change from a criminal lifestyle. Statistics show that more the topic of work in British prisons and preparation for
than 50 percent of ex-offenders recidivate within the first 12 release. These publications are attentive to the politics and
months of release from the correctional facility (or prison); policies and effect on prison vocational training assignments
and, in the 2018 report from Bureau of Justice Statistics, rates
are as high as 79 percent for state prisoners failing to 1
ERFs is a term introduced by Garth-Lewis in the doctoral
appropriately reenter the workforce (BJS Recidivism Report, dissertation, The Quest for Joint Ventures (1994), that
2018). Certainly, there are advantages and disadvantages to expresses the results of a statewide study of youthful offender
designing prison-based work models. The economic participants in prison-based work training, California
conditions of recent decades such as the 2000s recession— Department of Corrections (Youth Authority), today
for example, the housing boom and bust brought on by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (
subprime mortgage investments and reluctance of financial Juvenile Justice Division). The outcomes strongly suggest
institutions to lend as they were making adjustments to recidivism-reduction and improvements in employability;
avoid losses—represent a decline in 324 activity (Federal and, by Garth-James in book, How PIE Turns Predators into
Reserve Education, 2019). For instance, in an economy Producers (2005); and Eleuthera: Improve Corrections
where manufacturing jobs are decreasing, skills and Performance and Save Our Communities (2015) available at
attitudes are incompatible with American labor, cross- Amazon.

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Volume 4, Issue 6, June – 2019 International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology
ISSN No:-2456-2165
for prisoners and the expansion of prison-based public- management and operations in the correctional facility, there
private prison (joint venture) industry work programs. The is opportunity for rehabilitation for the individual offenders
jobs available in the modern labor market occupations such with goals in mind. The policies that support the correctional
as (hairdressers), administrative and office support, retail agenda goal to lock’em up- is the underlying reason that
sales, and construction (roofers, painters, other)—require prisoner work programs with successful post-release
more than secondary (high school) education. In fact, the orientation struggle to survive. In fact, they are having
Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) data reveals the disparity in difficulty because prison policies prioritize the traditional
education requirements to meet the minimum job standards goals and values of the justice system. A new framework is
for new entrants (Figure 1). necessary that represents the demographics and economic
conditions of a global society with values and expectations
to return offenders to the community ready to contribute
rather than destabilize. Friends, victims of crime and
criminal offenders as well as policy makers, educators and
justice professionals confront the challenge of reconciling
political persuasions in talking to each other about
recidivism-reduction through joint venture work trainings; a
new framework for reentry success includes doing the right
thing to help individual offenders with reform goals through
work and programs. Discussing over-relying on
imprisonment as the acceptable way to have criminal
offenders repay the debt is not logical. The high costs of just
warehousing offenders (e.g. minority proportionality, costs
and length of stay of offenders on death row, a topic beyond
the scope of this paper) indicate that policy making cannot
Fig 1:- Percent of Labor Market Entrants Meeting continue based on one’s own group’s perspective. In a global
Educational Requirement for Employment (2017)
society that boast a strong economy, the benefits of
industrialization and technological innovations, then
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2014-2024
connecting the democratic values to enduring appreciation
shows a growing mismatch for job and education for humanity requires conservatives and liberals working
requirements which indicate occupations will require alongside each other to discover and implement “what
secondary (certifications) and post-secondary education works” policy and programs. This paper explores work and
(Figure 2). Education requirements for jobs that typically
education as a recidivism-reduction strategy for modern
require no formal education and some college, but no degree,
such as in the retail, cosmotology and construction industrie,
are decreasing.  The Problem
The problem is returning offenders from correctional
facilities (prisons) without the education and work skills to
meet the job requirements. Since the 1990s, writing up the
author’s research findings regarding work and education in
prisons did help with the Governor’s Inmate Work Program
Initiative (Proposition 139), which did pass in California and
expanding joint venture training and workplace literacy for
some offenders. The revolutionary changes in the literature
review on the basis of the “work works” ethos of the
Canadians, namely the research of Dr. Paul Gendreau and
experts about effective and effcient rehabilitation policy
programs. The quick fix solutions as ‘just lockem up’ is a
longstanding problem. The problem of releasing offenders
back to the neighborhoods with rehabilitation seems out-of-
Fig 2:- Jobs and Education Requirements step with the evidence. For instance, after spending billions
on building prisons to warehouse some two million
Intelligent and rational conversations (apolitical) must offenders and high recidivism rates (up to 80%) (BJS, 2018)
be had regarding when criminals can pay a debt to families, in American corrections understandably there is demand for a
crime victims, taxpayers as well as meet the reform new vision to handle criminal offenders that want to reform.
expectations of society. Prisoner work programs exist other
than to reduce inmate idleness and enhance prison

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II. LITERATURE REVIEW training and paying marketable wages to offenders (inmate
laborers) of the company.
The research materials of scholars in the field in the
field of public administration and management such as James The PIECP law (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2018) is
E. Swiss‘s Public Management Systems: Monitoring and a congressional policy which encourages the state and local
Managing Government Performance, offers an important (jails) to collaborate with the private company and
step toward successful management and implementation of corrections to jointly establish prison-based companies.
programs, even joint ventures or partnerships that blend There are several prisoner work models as a corrections’
work and workplace literacy that can enhance the skills of strategy to create a feeling of partnership for private sector
offenders leaving the correctional facility (prison). The ex- interest in PIECP program—the private sector participant may
offenders are returning to the neighborhood and expectations play one of several roles, the Customer Model, the Customer
of reform had by family, neighbors and society. The Controlling Model, the Manager Model, the Investor Model,
conversations in the literature review regarding “what works” and the Joint Venture and Employer Model. A summary of
in offender rehabilitation is more visible in mid-2000s these models (Sexton, 1992; Garth-James, 2011, pp. 141-
comparing the decades 1990-2000 and advocating for 143):
evidence-based policy making is rational. For example, the 1. In the Customer Model, the private sector purchases a
concept of factories behind fences, is a concept that is significant amount of product by the state-owned and
attributed to Chief Justice Warren Burger (UNICOR,1996) to operated venture. For example, at the Utah Correctional
reform just warehousing offenders, rather to provide them State Prison at Draper, the Utah printing and graphics
with work. The traditional prison industries for corrections shop operation did manufacture signs largely purchased by
management and operation did pay minuscule wages and outside vendors.
working on license plates, and furniture was to prevent 2. Under the Customer Controlling Model, the private sector
idleness. The ideas of working in marketable job skills purchases all or more than 50 percent of the venture or
training programs and earning prevailing wages did mean PIEs’ production and plays a role (technical assistance) in
changes to the prison management. The traditional prison the industry.
work programs that offer some work experience will remain 3. The Manager Model allows total private management of
the mainstay of corrections. the publicly owned industry. An example closely
resembling this model is PRIDE industries which operates
 Joint Ventures industries for the Florida correctional agency.
Simon’s shows the value of work programs in the
research on the British penal system, and highlights The Investor Model describes a situation in which the
philosophies and views about public organization efficiency private organization capitalizes or invests in the public
and accountability. Administrative efficacy and prison-based prison-based business. Whalers Company had invested in
work models such as the promising joint venture work Arizona Correctional Indus- tries (ARCOR) at the Arizona
programs is an indictment against irrational policymaking in prison at Perryville (1990). Whalers provided the equipment
corrections and the fartcatcher syndrome2 that preempts in exchange for a share of profits.
meaningful conversations about ways to obtain marketable
job skills training and experience while in prison. The joint The Joint Venture and Employer models. The Employer
venture programs operate in American corrections (prisons model is popular and used to a great degree in the adult and
and jails), employing less than 3% of volunteer prisoners that youth penal institutions. It creates a prison-based industry that
are obtaining real-world work experience in the Prison employs in- mates as its sole source of labor, to produce
Industry Enhancement Certification Programs (PIECP) that goods and services for sale in the marketplace. The private
allow inmates (or employees) to work for a private employer company controls the hiring, firing, and supervising of the
in occupations that represent the free labor market inmate-worker and pays the prevailing or minimum wage. In
occupations and inside the prison-based company. These the 1990s, this model was used at the Kansas Correctional
positions pay a minimum or prevailing wage for comparable Institution (for adults), where the private company involved is
work done by free labor. The triple bottom line (traditional Zephyr Products, Inc., of Lansing, Michigan. Since Zephyr
profits, people and social responsibility) are necessary values brought its metal fabrication business behind bars, t has
in PIEs as they act as a business—interviewing, hiring, collected over several million dollars in federal and state taxes
and returned over $600 million back to society through
reimbursements to the state for room and board and other
fees. The Arizona‘s Women‘s Facility’s hotel reservation
Sixteenth century term that refers to a valet that walks business, involving the hiring of female inmates to handle
behind his master and is exposed to his/her expelled flatis overflow reservations and room changes; results in these
(see Urban Dictionary), also used by Dr. Paul Gendreau, intimates earning minimum hourly wage starting at $ 5.25 per
―Generating Rational Correctional Policies, Corrections hour, and in the South Carolina Department of Corrections
Management 4 (2) (2000): 52 two the Standard Ply Flooring and Anderson companies

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established a prison-based business for hardwood floor prisoner labor (Prison Labor Megs.Com, 2018). In state
manufacturing paying inmates some 5000 inmates a market departments of corrections such as the Nevada
wage and providing work and workplace literacy training to Department of Corrections, adjusting administrative rules
meet performance and efficiency goals. and regulations (AR 854 addressing the operation of the
4. Additionally, joint venture models can include agency’s prison industry operations) and oversight from the
relationships with the private sector: 1) The Adviser US Department of Justice are helping to eliminate problems
Model, which involves the private sector as the (Bureau of Justice Assistance PIECP Program, 2018).
significant adviser of the publicly owned and operated Demand is growing to stop over-relying on just
industry; 2) The Licenser Model, which allows a private warehousing offenders that are returning on average in
entity to license a prison to manufacture or assemble a about 2 years to the community. The new vision for
product for which it holds a patent or design rights; 3) handling criminal offenders while under the supervision
The Marketing Representative Model, which involves the of corrections requires a new framework that incorporates
private sector as a paid marketer of the state-owned the “what works” ethos of rehabilitation through
business‘s products and/or services; and, 4) The counseling, medical treatment, and work and education.
Interagency Agreement Model, which allows the public The Urban Institute roundtable discussion with corrections
agency to manage the industry in which it has jointly and business professionals indicate that one million
invested with another public entity. 3 incarcerated males are a fiscal burden and generate a net loss
to the American Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $100 to
Meaningful work commands the offender’s interest, $200 billion dollars. In 2004, Petersilia’s research found that
utilizes their skills, and enhances marketable job skills which releasing thousands of prisoners per year stretches
can reduce ERFs. As the author reviews the factors correctional supervision services “beyond limits,” having an
leading to recidivism--failure upon reentry back into the adverse impact on ex-offender post-release success.
community at 12 and 36 months-- the employment-crime Research is discovering the benefits of private industry work
issue is not one to ignore. The aspect of balance and models-- marketable job skills training, combined with
community stability has been forgotten; the Joint Venture vocational rehabilitation and education-- which provide a
Accountability Model can help with community restoration framework to improve inmate “work effort,” self-esteem and
and as a viable strategy for recidivism-reduction. The data can reduce recidivism and improve reentry (US DOJ, 1996;
shows that the offenders working in the real-world prison- Gerhing, 2000; Lageson & Uggen, 2013; Lichtenberger,
based workshops and during release from the facility had the 2006; Linton, 2008, National Correctional Industries, 2018).
lower recidivism rates than those without work experience;
and, in my own study and observations sometimes better than  Education
the offenders working in the traditional (government managed Not having a robust Pell Grant program for incarcerated
and operated) jobs. . Certainly, there are advantages and persons is linked to educational outcomes as shown in studies
disadvantages to designing prison-based work models. In by Tewksbury, Ericson and Taylor, (2000) and my own
economic downturns and jobs for free labor are scarce as unscientific conversations with individuals in prisons and
in the 2000s recession, then the PIE (joint venture) jails in California while serving as State Jail Education
occupations are incompatible with the employment Coordinator, California Department of Education. In
expectations had by the larger society. Unions have addition, studies show a strong relationship between
oftentimes been opposed to the partnerships, which is not education programs and success during postrelease (Garner,
uncommon and is consistent with their cause of defying 1985; Cogburn, 1988; Hall & Bannatyne,1976; Parsons &
business exploitation of workers throughout history. Langenback, 1993 (updated information by Roth & Manger,
Disturbing are allegations of offender employee 2014); Steurer & Smith, 2003, Urban Institute Report Center
exploitation—for example, Occupational Health and on Education, 2016; USDOJ, 2003, 2008, 2015):
Safety (OSHA) and Fair Labor Standards Acts wage
violations, as well as allegations of undermining free “Our reviews of the research literature demonstrated
labor and displacing them to undercut wages using that successful rehabilitation of offenders had been
accomplished, and continued to be accomplished quite
well….[R]eductions in recidivism, sometimes as substantial
3 as 80 percent, had been achived in a considerable number of
Garth-James worked as an Independent Observer for six
years, Department of Justice and National Correctional well-controlled studies” (Sare, 1999).
Industry Association, conducting compliance monitoring of
the participants pursuant to the PIECP as well as ensuring Education programs emphasizing job-related skills is
inmate welfare. These models have been observed in most of necessary for offenders returning to the community and
jurisdictions in American corrections (federal, state and seeking employment. The demand for technology-delivered
local). Readers may also find updates of PIECPs (or PIE education to inmates is not new, but advocates want to
projects) at the National Correctional Industries website (see prevent high parole failure due to low literacy as well as
References). improve reentry back into society. In a study conducted by

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Volume 4, Issue 6, June – 2019 International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology
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Francom and Garth-James (2009) for presentation at the III. METHOD
National Science Foundation EEE Conference, titled A
Summary Analysis of Research: The Effects of E-Learning on This paper uses a literature review of scientific studies
Prisoner Recidivism and Reentry, the reveals additional of government agencies, think tanks and the author’s
research is necessary to correlate the effects of electronic qualitative research. A random sampling of 20 correctional
learning and reduction in recidivism. The Garth-Francom educators and supervision professionals, and 10 did
Model illustrates technology features that can enhance (or participants, did answers questions in a computerized survey
inhibit) efficient education delivery and learning outcomes that was open for 3 days. The questions sought information
(Figure 3). about usefulness of correctional education as a recidivism-
reduction strategy for modern corrections. Isolating the
variables prisoner education and work training using
electronic learning formats (eLearning using the learning
management systems as Black Board) is challenging. The
author wants to learn the modern perceptions of corrections
personnel about the education and work and effect on
offenders—which can be shaped by social events and recent
science in the literature materials of what works in
corrections to reform. The author anticipates that the
information can assist with plans to conduct a quantitative
study regarding in-prison eLearning modality and PIE
participation involving offenders and their post-release
experiences (recidivism-reduction). Statistical software is
useful to interpret and visually display the responses to the
qualitative survey. Question one ask about the presence of
correctional education in prisons and there was 100%
agreement, but the formats were not as concise as brick-and-
Fig 3:- Garth-Francom Model: eLearning Affects Recidivism mortar teaching modalities are in wide-use. The break down
and Readiness for Reentry of question 2 about online distance education is in shown
below (figure 4).
The authors did conclude that the technology security
concerns may not outweigh the champion of using the
eLearning mode to education prisoners and association with
improved recidivism and reentry. Ex-offenders continue to
fail parole because they lack workplace literacy and
numeracy skills to secure employment and become a
contributing “breadwinner” at home Modern corrections
needs to become optimistic about the benefits of evidence-
based research of what works such as education (workplace
literacy supporting job skills) to reduce recidivism and
improve ex-offender a back into society (Cullen & Gilbert,
1982; Esperian, 2010; Gendreau et. al., 1989). Although
essential is work training, the prisoner’s participation in
prison-based education using technology may be statistically
significant to recidivism and reentry.

Fig 4:- Question 2: Distance Education

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Volume 4, Issue 6, June – 2019 International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology
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Question 4 sought professional perceptions of the The results of the literature review and comparative
strategic decision make use of electronic learning and meta-analysis studies as well as the author’s qualitative
(computerized learning, and internet eLearning) as a possible study does indicate room for correctional education and joint
benefit to the corrections agency. The results are below ventures (or a role of private companies) in prison recidivism
(figure 5). reduction. The strategic decision-making to achieve goals
that meet societal expectations and helpful to individual
offenders with reform goals in mind, requires having the
conversation with policy makers and advocates across the
political spectrum. The recommendations include:

1. Rely on Evidence and What Works in Corrections for

Policymaking. The US Department of Justice surveyed
corrections professionals who indicated a “strong
interests” in the topic of prisoner education and
technology usage. Politicians base decisions to support
(or oppose) policies to promote prison-based education
based primarily on one field of research, which is
corrections. The benefits of an interdisciplinary approach
to using strategies helpful to prisoner reentry is to invest
Fig 5:- Prisons and Use of Electronic Learning in gaining research information from two fields—
corrections and information technology. Moreover,
The questions 3 and 5 were about the necessity of Tolbert (2002) and Tolbert and Klein (2008), argued for
having correctional education and work training (including quality of education, and examined the issue of policy-
joint venture) programs at all inside the prison environment relevant data by analyzing the national survey (US DOJ),
(see figures 6 and 7). and the Correctional Education Data Guidebook and
website supported by the US Department of Education
and the findings of “significant limitations in data” and
policymaking, therefore, additional collaboration with the
federal and state departments of corrections are ongoing
to establish common programming definitions,
instructions, and address deficiencies in the knowledge
base regarding technology-based learning in corrections

2. Identify Standards of E-Learning. A successful eLearning

program in any setting should minimally have the
following three components. First, is a good instructor to
engage the learner and to teach often (Demayer, 2001;
Gee, 2006). Second is an easy to learn course
Fig 6:- Needing Education and Work management system (CMS) for non-technologically
oriented students so that they don’t get lost in the tools
and frustrated with the eLearning model. The Moodle
learning management system is easy to use eLearning and
it can be used on behind bars with security modifications.
Third component is recognizing that eLearning can be
suitable to address economic issues facing prisons (and
jails) related to education. Two main security issues need
attention such as Network infrastructure and software.
First, network–centric applications for the dissemination
of pedagogical content could allow users to roam the
network unrestricted. Whereas most network-centric
applications utilize the Internet, this could prove
disastrous if the prisoner were to engage in malicious or
Fig 7:- Recidivism Reduction and Private Parternships illegal activities rather than complete their assigned
educational learning tasks. For example, if utilizing a

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learning management system will require the Internet to of success? For some, labor unions are important to the
allow both off-site teacher access and in-prison student expansion of joint ventures because of their strong influence
access, the student-prisoner might access a different and on public policy and likelihood of adding to membership.
secure website to protect from illicit activity. The second When criminal offenders land in prison, their concerns are
type of issue is restrictions on software that can pose a surely not about the broader political issues that affect prison
security risk. Software that permits unrestricted intra- administration and management; they just want and need
prison or. extra-prison communication using Internet professional help to reform.
technologies such as chats, blogging or email, could be
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