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TO: S.A. Godinez, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections
FROM:Chloe Smith, citizen of DuPage county; chloesmit...
Oregon—22.8% recidivism rate8—one can see how increasing education opportunities for
inmates can have a positive effect of...
Sources
Aney, Kathy. "Education on the Inside: Inmates at EOCI Enroll in Classes to Prepare for Life
after Prison." The Ea...
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114 policy memo final draft

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114 policy memo final draft

  1. 1. TO: S.A. Godinez, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections FROM:Chloe Smith, citizen of DuPage county; chloesmith93@gmail.com DATE: 3/22/13 RE: Recidivism and the Illinois Department of Corrections ______________________________________________________________________________ My name is Chloe Smith, and I am an Illinois citizen concerned with the high recidivism rates of Illinois criminals. Recidivism is a relapse into crime. Nationally, the recidivism rate of state prisons is 43.3% but, in the state of Illinois the recidivism rate is 51.7%1. The first step in reducing recidivism rates would be to implement an educational program that sets Illinois prisoners up for success upon release. Although the Illinois department of corrections offers a GED program and technical training for inmates the type of education found within the Illinois prison systems should be brought to an entirely new level. An acceptable model of a state with a thriving education program is that of the State of Oregon. In Oregon recidivism rates of those who received no education is 26.5%, while the rate amongst those who received an associate’s degree while incarcerated drops to 14%, and finally the recidivism rate of those who received a bachelor’s degree while in prison is only 6%2. These numbers are far more appealing than the national recidivism rates of 43.3 %3 which is why the Illinois Department of Corrections should follow suit and offer education in every state prison. Although many prisons offer literacy classes, GED classes, and some technical training these are not enough. Education, either general or specialized for a trade, allow for prisoners to learn important skills that will help them succeed; rather than just removing them from society for an extended period of time and throwing them back with a black mark on their record and no ability to get a job. A major contributor to the recidivism rate is the inability for released convicts to find a sufficient job because they have little education and/or training. A 1991 study found that only 23% of parolees who had received vocational or educational training were re-incarcerated in a twelve month period4. The study subjects had no prior job training or any contact with employers during their time in prison. Education can make a large impact on recidivism rates and would be a wise investment for the Department of Corrections to reduce the cost of corrections over time. The annual cost per inmate in Illinois is $38, 2685. With an average of 18,409 inmates being incarcerated each year that is an additional cost of $704,448,900.946 along with the $20,110 cost per inmate for the incarceration process7 which is $370,204,990. Obviously this is an immense burden on the tax payer and the Illinois Department of Corrections budget. Although education could not guarantee every released convict would not commit another crime, again looking at 1 State of Recidivism April2011 The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons 2 Peters, Colette. 3 State of Recidivism April2011 The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons 4 Jancic, Mitchell. 5 The Price of Prisons: Illinois 6 State of Recidivism April2011 The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons 7 Godinez, S.A
  2. 2. Oregon—22.8% recidivism rate8—one can see how increasing education opportunities for inmates can have a positive effect of recidivism rates and directly cut costs. Although from 2012 to 2013 there was an 8.2% decrease in the Department of Corrections budget and this is definitely a significant amount I am not asking for additional funding9. I suggest that IDOC follow the model of Oregon and call for donations and volunteers to support this program. I estimate the annual cost of this education program to be $24, 137,900 for the state of Illinois—based on Oregon’s $7,000,000 annual costs and differences in state prison number and sizes10. The program used by the State of Oregon is called “College Behind Bars”. College Behind Bars allows prisoners participate in college courses with actual college students. The prisoners are required to complete all of the same assignments as the regular students and once a week students from the participating college attend class at the prison to give the prisoners a chance to interact with other students and have a class room experience. Oregon’s program has flourished as a result of the immense support from the community because there is such promise in positive social change with correctional educations. Oregon has seen a 24-27% decrease in recidivism amongst inmates who participate in 110 hours of schooling or more while incarcerated11. A study done by the United States Department of Education found that for every one dollar spent on education, two dollars were saved on prison costs and that those who attended class during incarceration were 29% less likely to be reincarcerated12. As I previously stated, reducing recidivism rates would not only have a positive economic effect but also a positive social effect. Eddie Alves the director of education at Treasure Valley Community College (OR) stated, “The goal is to prevent further victims, although it’s for the inmate, it’s for the whole community13. Brigitte Amsberry, the assistant superintendent of transition of the ODOC stated, “Education reduces recidivism, which reduces victimization—it’s not about ‘let’s give these guys something to do.’ We’re providing education because it will ultimately keep the public safer.14” Like all states, the crime rate in Illinois could stand to go down a few points, increasing education within the Illinois state prisons recidivism will go down as will the crime rate. The state of Illinois has the potential to significantly reduce its corrections cost and positively impact the social structure of Illinois by implementing a greater utilization of education in the state prison systems. A reduced recidivism rate is something that with benefit all Illinois citizens socially and financially by lessening the burden of the corrections on taxpayers and returning able-workers to the job force when released from prison. The Department of Corrections must recognize that something needs to be done and that this proposition allows for positive change without high monetary costs. I have addressed this memorandum to you because you are the Illinois Department of Corrections board members and your support of this proposal is the first step towards bringing change to Illinois corrections. 8 State of Recidivism April2011 The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons 9 Fiscal Year 2013 Agency Budget Fact Sheets 10 Meyer, Dawnell 11 Meyer, Dawnell 12 Foreman, Steven. 13 Keller, Jessica. 14 Aney, Kathy.
  3. 3. Sources Aney, Kathy. "Education on the Inside: Inmates at EOCI Enroll in Classes to Prepare for Life after Prison." The East Oregonian. N.p., 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OMR/PROGMS/docs/wfd_eoci_20091216.pdf>. "Fiscal Year 2013 Agency Budget Fact Sheets." Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Fact Sheet. Governor Pat Quinn, 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. Foreman, Steven. "Oregon's College Inside Program Educating Inmates." University KVAL. N.p., 6 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <http://university.kval.com/content/oregons-college- inside-program-educating-inmates>. Godinez, S.A. "IDOC: Financial Impact Statement." Illinois.gov. N.p., 2011. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. Jancic, Mitchell. "Does Correctional Education Have an Effect on Recidivism?" JCE 49.4 (1998): 152-61. Print. Keller, Jessica. "Grant Allows Some SRCI Inmates to Get Associates Degree." The Argus Observer. N.p., 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OMR/PROGMS/docs/wfd_srci_20101209.pdf>. Meyer, Dawnell. "Colette Peters Lecture." Message to the author. 22 Apr. 2013. E-mail. Peters, Colette. "Renaissance Series." College of Saint Benedict Annual Renaissance Series. Upper Gorecki, Saint Joseph. 21 Jan. 2013. Lecture. "The Price of Prisons: Illinois." Vera Institute of Justice. The PEW Center on the States, Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. "State of Recidivism April 2011 The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons." The Pew Charitable Trusts - Non Profit Organization Serving the Public. N.p., Apr. 2011. Web. 5 Mar. 2013.

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