Prison work programs were instilled as a form of rehabilitation/reentry programs for inmates. They were meant to keep those who participated fit, but also mentally and physically healthy while providing skills that would benefit them upon release.
A New York judge declares that 1/8th of prisoners in New York’s Auburn prison were unable to read or could only read by spelling out most of the words presented to them.
Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1960
This is a period of time where prison education was not valued in the USA. It reflects our countries mindset regarding prisoners, their wellbeing and education levels.
The Chaplin of a Colorado penitentiary began a night class program that was used to hone inmates skills. This gave them skills that would enhance their positions in society once their sentence was served.
Approx. 1970 - Approx. 2006
The Rate of incarceration began to steadily rise until its peak in roughly 2006.
Approx. 1980 - Approx. 1990
From the 1980's to 1990's a series of surveys were conducted in the penal system. It was shown through these survey results that a high number of inmates had an education level that wasn't higher than a highschool diploma. In reaction to these results the Government and states instilled basic adult programs to begin the increase of prisoner education levels.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons establishes the first mandatory literacy program for inmates with less than 6th grade education.
Another evaluation indicated about one-third of inmates could not read, write, or do math at the 8th grade level.
A Louisiana survey indicated that recently admitted inmates could only function at 5th-6th grade levels.
Survey shows that every state that responded had a Adult Basic Education program in place.
NIL reports 600,000 inmates were released on parole and half are reincarcerated within a 3 year period.
President Obama along with his administration announced plans to reduce recidivism rates. They seek to complete this goal by announcing and spearheading a series of programs that focused acquiring education and/or Jobs skills.
Post prison program, Pioneer Human Services, reported that the recidivism rate for the 5000 inmates they helped was under 5%. This Proves that with the right ideals and rehabilitation systems, we can lower recidivism rates dramatically.
Rise in incarceration rates
Approx. 2020 - Approx. 2040
The Presidential race is at its peak. Donald Trump has just concluded his first term at office and is currently seeking his second. His conservative views and political agenda have made him forget and lose focus of the prison system. Those who are in it have seen a decrease in inmate empowering programs.
Another spike in incarceration levels like the one that occured in the 70’s has occurred. Unlike the past time in the 20th century social movements groups are well prepared to navigate the legal system and try to push legislation that would lower sentences and get rid of crimes that have mandatory minimum sentences
Peak of incarceration levels
After incarceration levels peak Inmate empowerment groups have managed to redirect government funding towards the broken prison system. The additional funding the penal system acquired is geared towards inmate programs, reforming the prison system and the families of those who are incarcerated and can't provide for family members.
By this time thirty years have passed since President Donald Trump was in office. A significant decrease in prison sentences and incarceration levels has occurred. The total eradication of private prisons, the changing of the prison structure and mindset revolving around the concept of prison has also changed. Along with these key adjustments it seems that social movements that revolve around inmate empowerment issues have reached their primary goals. Although they have reached their primary goals they do not want to disband, instead they will reorient towards another issue that revolves around the prison culture in the USA.