Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Advancing policies and programs that give these men and women a second chance to put their lives back on track promotes not only justice and fairness, but also public safety. The path that these individuals take—successful reentry or recidivism—depends most on a single variable: full-time employment. Unfortunately, only 70 percent of adults in state prison and fewer than half of the juveniles who are incarcerated have a high school diploma or GED. Without this basic steppingstone to opportunity, the jobs they need to reintegrate into their communities remain out of reach.
Research shows that prisoners are more likely to earn education credentials when their education begins during incarceration and continues upon reentry. For most inmates, there is not a smooth pathway from prison education to postsecondary opportunities. Earlier today the White House announced an initiative, the Improved Reentry Education (IRE) initiative designed to create this critical pathway.
Through IRE, the U.S. Department of Education will award up to $8 million (over 3 years) to 9 communities to support educational attainment and reentry success for incarcerated individuals. This grant program will build an evidence base on effective reentry education programs. It will seek to demonstrate that high-quality, appropriately designed, integrated, and well-implemented educational and related services in institutional and community settings are critical to support educational attainment and reentry success.
JFF is very fortunate and excited to be awarded a contract from the Department of Education to provide technical assistance to the IRE grantees. As an organization, we’ve worked for decades to create pathways to opportunity for youth and adults facing significant barriers to education and employment. We look forward to working with the sites as they achieve their goals and spread lessons learned to the broader field.
Find information on President Obama’s full set of recommendations to promote rehabilitation and reintegration for the formerly incarcerated.