Time after time after time, studies have shown that education can play a significant role in reducing recidivism rates. For people provided with vocational training while incarcerated, the recidivism rate dropped to 30%. The numbers only get better from there: with an associate’s degree, the rate drops to 13.7%; down to 5.6% with a bachelor’s; and for inmates who earn a master’s degree while incarcerated, the rate of recidivism is effectively zero.
These numbers should be very encouraging. But as technology marches on and becomes more and more essential for employment, there is a widening gulf between the technology incarcerated people have access to and what employers require.
That’s why it’s time to change the thinking about modern technology in prisons. We all have a stake in this endeavor: Reducing recidivism impacts not just the individuals whose paths shift but their families and communities—for generations. It reduces the tax burden of incarceration, helps relieve demands on our justice system, and provides employers with better resources. Technology isn’t a “nice to have” in this fight. It is part and parcel of how education helps the formerly incarcerated remain free.
Technology as a Tool for Reducing Recidivism
Education is such an effective way to reduce recidivism because it prepares inmates for success after they leave prison. The reality is pretty clear: Without in-demand job skills, finding and maintaining a job becomes impossible. Technology has to be part of developing those skills.
Without access to current technology, inmates are left behind. Even when prisons do have computers available, they often go without updates for years. When inmates enter the workplace, they may be asked to use technology a decade ahead of what they’re used to. That’s a difficult adjustment to make. But by providing inmates with updated tools that reflect the modern workplace, prisons can help set them up for success.
Technology as an Educational Tool in Prisons
In addition to helping the incarcerated prepare for the workplace, technology plays an important role in prisons as an educational tool. One of the most exciting examples of this is Google for Education, which has applications for K-12 classrooms as well as for higher education, and which can be readily adapted for use within prisons. With its potential for collaboration, remote learning, and data analysis, Google for Education creates new opportunities for higher education among incarcerated populations.
Tools like Google for Education offer a new set of options that can provide both students and teachers with the flexibility they need to achieve the best possible results. They provide inmates with previously unavailable training opportunities, secure communication with instructors, and the ability to maintain records and accomplishments to facilitate their job search.
Upgrading Technology in Prisons to Reduce Recidivism
Any digital transformation is bound to present a few challenges, and that’s certainly true within the correctional system, which brings unique security challenges. But there are few better examples of when upgrades can have such a profound, meaningful impact on both individual lives and society.
That’s why it’s important to get it done right. A good partner will take the time to understand your needs and what you hope to achieve, and they’ll work with you through the whole process. When you leverage the deep knowledge of an expert partner, you’ll reap the benefits of a digital upgrade in a timely, efficient fashion.
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