Using technology to educate prisoners is beginning to garner more nationwide attention from correctional facilities, state and local governments and school systems. It has been proven that the rate of recidivism drops when effort is put into educating offenders. Since local college access is limited or simply too remote to offer on-site teaching to many prisons, technology can offer multiple platforms for reaching all demographics within the prison system.
It was once believed that the use of technology to educate prisoners should be focused primarily on vocational training; repeat offenders were less likely to reappear in the system if they left prison with some sort of job skills. However, more correctional facilities are now beginning to offer secondary degrees as well, though teachers may require special licensing to work in some prisons.
Not all prisoners are uneducated. There is a strong push to reach those offenders who have a high school diploma and who are between the ages of 18 and 25, with a one to five year sentence. By offering easy access to law libraries and closed circuit college courses, to lessons in technological relevance after release and to outside communication via email, many of these prisoners are better prepared to manage their lives without committing crimes.
Some of the most common technological tools used within the prison educational system are video conferencing, satellite broadcasts, access to email and electronic law libraries, download access to hand books, menus, newspapers and books, and even graphic media and web design courses.
The biggest obstacle to using technology to educate prisoners is cost. Due to security concerns and the often remote locations of correctional facilities, some of the latest and most effective technology may be outside a prison’s budget goals. Even so, as the idea of using technology to prepare prisoners for success after their release takes hold, more political figures are supporting and pushing for greater financial access to education via technology.