Posted 2 months ago on March 21, 2013, 10:40 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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EDUCATION helps lower prison recidivism rates, thereby reducing crime. Washington legislators should lift a ban on using state funds for higher education in prison.
House Higher Education Committee Chairman Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, proposes House Bill 1429 to allow the state Department of Corrections to reallocate the agency’s existing education funds to include higher education.
Two decades ago, the Legislature prohibited using state money for postsecondary in-prison education programs.
Federal grants and other private resources currently pay for in-prison associate-degree programs. Inmates engaged in learning are easier to manage, numerous studies have found. They also are better prepared with job skills and vocational training to return to society and contribute to a more productive workforce for in-prison jobs. HB 1429 would help expand associate-degree programs in prison.
About 60 percent of the 17,371 state inmates are serving sentences of 10 years or fewer. Many are enrolled in skills-building efforts. Nearly 3,000 are enrolled in Basic Education and vocational programs. An additional 360 are enrolled in the associate-degree programs at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, the Washington State Penitentiary and the Academic Degree Programs through Walla Walla Community College.
For every $5,000 invested in education, there is a $20,000 benefit in cost savings from fewer costly incarcerations and use of social services, according to a Washington State Institute of Public Policy report ordered by the 2009 state Legislature. Further savings come from crimes avoided, including property losses, medical costs, lost earnings and costs associated with a reduced quality of life. Read the rest here