Vacancies in the New Mexico prison system’s education bureau calls into question the government’s commitment to learning as a key to combat recidivism, reports the New Mexico Independent. Roughly a quarter of the 111 prison education jobs are vacant, meaning inmates might not be in classes because there aren't enough teachers, says Gail Oliver, who last month retired as deputy corrections secretary for prisoner re-entry. “That's huge. And it is going to get worse,” Oliver said.
The high vacancy rate seems to place a drag on the state's efforts to reduce recidivism, a priority Gov. Bill Richardson has touted as part of his prison reform package leading into the 2010 legislative session. And a department-wide hiring freeze that exempts only corrections officers and parole/probation officers means filling the positions isn't a likely option, at least for now. The prisons budget suffered a $12.5 million cut this budget year, and further cuts may be on the horizon.