Programs for Prisoners Could Pay Off for Society
Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making learning beyond high school available to all, has turned their sights on an underserved population: present and former prison inmates.
Danette Gerald Howard, Lumina’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer, writes that they believe that this effort will not only help the organization meet its goal of 60 percent of working-age adults hold a postsecondary credential by 2015, but will help bridge institutional gaps in attainment by race and ethnicity.
Right now, only 46.9 percent of working age adults have postsecondary credentials, which is a barrier to good jobs and opportunities. Working with students who are currently or formerly part of the justice system will help boost those numbers, and also give a leg up to traditionally underserved communities.
Right now, the numbers show a wide disparity between groups with postsecondary attainment: 62 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders, 46 percent for whites, 30 percent for African Americans, 24 percent for Hispanics, and 22 percent for American Indians. Howard hopes the new funding initiatives for inmates can help create a more level playing field.
Hopefully, this initiative will reach many of the 600,000 people who are released from state and federal prisons each year. Data clearly shows that prison higher education is one of the largest influences in reducing recidivism rates. Add that to a population better equipped to find high-quality jobs and more lucrative financial opportunities, and it becomes clear that Lumina’s efforts are an important step in creating a happier, more productive populace.