Prison lockdowns, solitary confinement, antiquated texts and computer labs are common deterrents in a prison education program that Nashville entrepreneur Turner Nashe Jr. wants to make irrelevant when it comes to inmates pursuing degrees, The Tennessean reports. His approach includes a mobile tablet that offers online courses to inmates. The tablet and his CorrectionEd learning system have been gaining traction with state correctional departments across the nation and will be used in more than 35 facilities by the fall. CorrectionEd offers General Educational Development, vocational and college courses. With higher degrees, the likelihood for recidivism drops, which means better outcomes for inmates and less cost to taxpayers.
“My goal is to increase engagement, reduce the length of time it takes for an inmate to gain or finish a degree and to improve time on task and learning scores,” said Nashe, whose company is called Innertainment Delivery Systems. Ideally, “when these guys get out, they can go straight to work rather than playing catch-up.” Among those released from incarceration, 40 percent of inmates are likely to return within three years of being released, but those who participate in education programs have a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating, said a 2013 Rand Corporation report. For Nashe the issue is also personal. In 2010 he was charged with money laundering and indicted with dozens of others in a mortgage fraud case in Ohio. Charges were later dropped without prejudice, but the accusation prompted Nashe to consider what would have happened if the charges had held. With budgets for correctional education being cut in state and federal corrections departments during the past decade, facilities are looking for ways to carry out programs more efficiently and online education is gaining momentum, said Stephen Steurer of the Correctional Education Association in Elkridge, Md.