Reflecting National Trend, Fewer OR Inmates Get Classroom Education


The number of Oregon prison inmates given classroom education took a 12.6 percent dip from 2009 to 2013, with fewer prisoners earning GEDs, reports The Oregonian. State spending on the prison system’s Adult Basic Skills Development program – including General Educational Development (GED), special education, English as a second language, and basic education – dropped about $100,000 during that time, says corrections spokeswoman Betty Bernt. High-risk offenders in Oregon who get a minimum 110 hours of education behind bars are up to 27 percent less likely to return to prison.

A 2013 analysis by the RAND Corporation showed that inmates participating in correctional education programs were 13 percent less likely to return to prison. Every $1 spent on a prisoner’s education saves $5 during the first three years he or she might return to prison, said RAND. Prison education budgets across the U.S. declined in the last few years, about 10 percent to 20 percent on average depending on the size of the state, according to Lois Davis, lead author of a new RAND study of inmate education programs. “There are now fewer teachers, few course offerings and fewer students enrolled in academic education programs,” Davis said. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy published a 2006 report that shows vocational training can reduce crime by 9 percent, a statistic that caught the eye of Oregon prison officials.

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