Sometimes giving inmates the educational programs that they want may not be what they need. Such is the case in Connecticut where the Department of Correction spends $17 million annually on educational programs for inmates, yet the latest statistics show that 64% of formerly incarcerated individuals in that state will be re-arrested after release, and the recidivism rate for former inmates three years after release is 54%.
NBC Connecticut reporter Jo Ling Kent, part of that television station’s Troubleshooters team interviewed Andrew Ferraro, a formerly incarcerated person who spent a large part of his adult life cycling through the criminal justice system. Ferraro recommended that educational programming and training should be focused on obtaining employment after release, thereby helping to reduce the recidivism rate. He also suggested that applications for food stamps and medical care could be started before an inmate is released, so that a reentrant has something to fall back on instead of reverting back to his or her old lifestyle while looking for employment.(Full disclosure: Andrew Ferraro is the son of Reentry Central managing editor, Beatrice Codianni).
Freeman Holloway, of Workforce Alliance, has been working with the reentry population for years. Echoing Ferraro, Holloway told Kent,“I do know one thing: when they do get out, many of them are not ready.If you prepare before you come out, then you’re ready to move forward.”
That seems to be what the Connecticut Department of Corrections is attempting to do. Kent asked Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning in Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management, and Monica Ronaldi, Director of Programs and Treatment at the Department of Correction, what changes are being implemented to help inmates transition back into the community.
Lawlor related that the DOC is now assessing inmates as soon as they come into the state’s prisons, and are directing educational resources toward “those they believe have the highest likelihood of improving themselves.” New educational programs will include better options for inmates, in terms of becoming employment-ready.
Ronaldi told Kent that the DOC’s inmate programs are being reviewed to see what can be more effective in reducing recidivism. It seems that under Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, funds for inmate educational programs will be directed to those that help prisoners with rehabilitation, rather than on those that merely help prisoners pass their time away. Ronaldi told NBC, that reentry counselors will now be placed in all of the state’s prisons, adding that the goal is to see a zero recidivism rate, "if it ever could be.”