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Time to Reframe Politics and Practices in Correctional Education

Volume 2: Chapter Four
Stefan LoBuglio

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In this chapter, Stefan LoBuglio discusses the politics and practices of educational programs for adults in correctional facilities. To begin, LoBuglio provides an overview of the field of corrections, including various types of facilities and correctional programs, as well as demographic and educational data on the U.S. incarcerated population and an overview of educational programs aimed at this population. Of particular interest to adult educators are data revealing the literacy needs of offenders, as determined by the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS).  LoBuglio goes on to spell out important issues in correctional education. These include shifting attitudes about the role of incarceration (i.e., punishment vs. rehabilitation), declining resources for educational programs, the mobility of incarcerated learners as they are moved from facility to facility because of overcrowding, and the challenges of preparing incarcerated adults for increasingly demanding employers.

In order for correctional education to be more widely supported, LoBuglio points to the need to better understand the link between educational programming and reduced rates of recidivism. He notes three studies that shed some light on this relationship. In addition, the author provides brief descriptions of effective programs and approaches and offers suggestions for policy, practice and research. Among these recommendations are the development of a broader constituency for correctional education programs, and a re-framing of correctional education as part of an inmate accountability strategy that encompasses education, work and treatment. Furthermore, LoBuglio mentions the need for updating and upgrading of current correctional education programs and a greater promotion and sharing of standards and best practices.  Finally, he calls for rigorously designed longitudinal studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of correctional education in reducing recidivism, as well as greater support and research focusing on links between correctional education programs in community corrections and programs in prisons and jails.

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