For offenders reentering the community the transition can be very difficult. Offenders face hardships in securing employment and housing to receiving adequate treatment for mental and physical illnesses and substance abuse. The number of offenders reentering society from prison and jail is steadily increasing yearly. States are diligently working to identify methods to help offenders successfully reintegrate into society. Some initiatives available in Harris County, TX include prison education programs, life and job skills training and counseling services.
This paper focuses on the educational opportunities available for offenders in Harris County, TX. The education ...view middle of the document...
The underlying philosophy of the program is that once participating inmates are equipped with the necessary life and professional skills, a reduction in recidivism will be the inevitable result (Albers, 2006:15). If you give a person the tools to be successful they have options to choose from instead of immediately resulting criminal behavior. The core belief underpinning the Sheriff’s Office policy on inmate education is that qualified inmates must have opportunities to develop the necessary professional and life skills to re-enter the “free world” as productive citizens (Albers, 2006:16).
The Windham School District
Windham School District (WSD) is the educating source for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It is also the main school district utilized by Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Windham School District provides a variety of academic classes, life skills and career and technology education classes for offenders who are confined in units operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2012). The system operates in 88 prison, transfer and state jail units, employs over 1,500 professionals and serves close to 60,000 inmates a year (Fabelo, 2002:106). It is funded by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Upon admission into prison all inmates are assessed to determine their educational achievement and which programs they would be eligible to participate in. The Individualized Treatment Plan is used by prison and Windham officials to prioritize participation of inmates for various programs based on an inmate’s needs, projected release date, and program availability (Windham School District, 2006).
Harris County Sheriff’s Office offers several programs to offenders such as:Adult Basic Education, General Equivalency Diploma (GED), English as a Second Language and Career Technology Education (CTE). Many of the programs offered will significantly impact the success of reintegration for the offenders taking advantage of the programs. Many of them will be able to obtain jobs and provide for their basics needs. Emphasis is placed on the skills employers’ demand, such as personal qualities, cultural sensitivity/tolerance, teamwork, decision-making and problem solving (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2012).
The Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses provide beginning and intermediate literacy programs to inmates whose educational achievement is below 6.0 at entrance to prison (Windham School District, 2000). The core curriculum of ABE includes reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Prison education can help lower some “natural” barriers to positive community reintegration by strengthening the intellectual, cognitive and life skills possessed by inmates (Fabelo, 2002:109).
The ESL program is an intensive program of instruction designed to develop proficiency in the comprehension, speaking, reading, and composition of the English language.Students enrolled in ESL...