Term Paper: Assembly Bill 1914

Pages: 8 (3055 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] If the inmate demonstrates the intellectual capacity to benefit therefrom, the committee shall provide that inmate with the opportunity to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma. Currently, the employees providing educational instruction are also engaged in correctional officer duties. The status-quo is only producing a 50% literacy rate at a seventh-grade level. By separating educational instruction and correctional activities, the author hopes to attain a higher level of education for the inmates and a more effective program altogether. It is uncertain whether a 9th grade level is realistic, considering that there are many Americans who find it quite difficult to attain that level in normal conditions. However, success would insure that offenders have access to better pay and more productive jobs, and therefore the rate of recidivism would be dramatically reduced. (12) Provide every inmate who has a reasonable expectation of release from custody with the opportunity to achieve entry-level vocational skills in occupational fields in which there is a demonstrable demand within the economy of this state. For the inmates who show clear abilities in one occupational field, entry-level skills are to be taught. The intention of the bill is to provide the best use for the state's money. Prisoners without a reasonable expectation of release from custody are not to be included in the program, although their work could also be used in different areas of the economy. It's not always necessary for people to be out of prison in order to be productive. Inmates could be used, for instance, in an auto repair shop, run by the CDC. While providing them with some activity, the CDC could certainly benefit financially. However, AB 1914 does not cover that issue. The bill aims at improving the chances of finding and keeping a job for the former inmates rather than improving the life of the prisoners, even if some methods could certainly be devised, without impoverishing the budget. (13) Provide every inmate to be released from custody with life management skills and social adaptation skills to allow the inmate to function successfully in society.

14) Provide inmates who demonstrate college-level academic capacity with the opportunity to engage in college-level academic programs within correctional facilities. The associated costs of these programs shall be borne by the inmate or generated by private or foundation funding, subject to evaluations for cost-effectiveness and recommendations as provided in paragraph (9). College education is made available for the ones who demonstrate capacity and who are able to support the cost of such programs. Cost-effectiveness is a major concern, considering that 4 previous virtually identical bills - AB 1219 (Montanez), SB 345(Presley), SB 1485 (Polanco), SB 404 (Polanco) - were vetoed because of the costs they involved. (15) Visit and inspect correctional schools as the committee deems necessary and name each correctional school if necessary.

Oppressed populations, social groups with high recidivism rate and difficult access to education can certainly benefit as a result of this program. Gail Spangenberg, from the Council for Advancement in Adult Literacy (CAAL) states in "Current issues in Correctional Education"(February 2004, Rev 2/25) that "Studies show that imprisoned individuals are disproportionately and increasingly undereducated, with low skills in the basics of reading, writing, math and oral communication Those who participate in correctional education programs have substantially lower rates of rearests, reconviction and reincarceration than people who leave prison without educational intervention." This shows that social groups with no or insignificant access to education will certainly benefit from the correctional education program, if a member of such group is to be included in this program. According to the National Education Association (the "NEA"), the report "Education and Incarceration" issued as a policy brief by the Justice Policy Institute shows that two thirds (68%) of prison inmates had not received a high school diploma and, between 1991 and 1997, the percentage of prisoners who reported taking educational programs while incarcerated declined from 57% to 52%, as the prison population grew. "The findings of the Justice Policy Institute demonstrate that we clearly need education, not incarceration, if we are to ensure that the American dream becomes a reality for many -- not just some," said Reg Weaver, President of the National Education Association. "Education can be the key that unlocks closed opportunities, but all too often we find that the key to a quality education -- adequate and equitable resources and funding- - is not within grasp. The unfortunate result is that we are more willing to build prisons than schools -- less willing to educate than incarcerate."

The Justice Policy Institute analysis found that the shift in new funding from education to prisons is having a devastating impact on the poor and uneducated, especially African-American men. The JPI policy brief shows that by 1999, 1 in 10 white male dropouts and an astonishing 52% of black male high school dropouts had prison records by their early thirties. Coming on the heels of a new Justice Department survey that showed that 6.6% of all Americans, 11% of men, and 32% of African-American men are likely to end up in prison if current incarceration rates hold, the JPI brief shows that African-American men in their early 30s are nearly twice as likely to have prison records (22%) than Bachelors degrees (12%). "These findings clearly show that, for low-education African-American men, prison has become a common life event, even more common than employment or military service," states Princeton University's Bruce Western, a co-author of the report. "By cleaving off poor black men from the mainstream of American life, the prison boom has left us more divided as a nation."

The bill will impact on both workers and prisoners. The society benefits the most, and this is shown by a change in people's attitude toward correctional education, According to Gail Spangenberg, "Ten years ago, the trend was to cut off programs including education, because the predominant impulse was toward punishment. But there has been a change from the "lock them up" mentality to rehabilitation. Although we have a long way to go in improving attitudes, it is a plus that people are at least beginning to recognize correctional institutions as more than just a place to warehouse people. In addition, over the past decade, inmate needs have gradually been viewed in a broader context. The focus used to be mostly on academic preparation and vocational skills training, but we are now giving more emphasis to reentry skills, parenting, anger management, workforce and financial education and such. Moreover, program designers understand that inmate needs are more than academic."

G. Spangenberg states that "Over the past decade, the greatest policy shifts at the federal level came about as a result of mandated changes in the Higher Education Act, the Adult and Vocational Education Acts and the Workforce Investment Act. PELL grants for College education were lost; the requirements of the Adult Education Act that a minimum of 10% of federal ABE funds for the stated were changed under WIA to a 10% maximum. At a state level, changes in policy appear less dramatic overall, but participants noted both gains and losses. The states of Oregon, Oklahoma, Maryland and Massachusetts passed literacy laws making it mandatory for inmates with a certain level of literacy to receive education. This policy has been relatively stable for the past ten years. Some states are giving more emphasis to serving inmates with the lowest levels of education (because this group has the highest rate of recidivism). The trend poses new choices and new challenges. State sponsored correctional education has declined in the last decade, and increasingly programs have been farmed out to other kinds of agencies. This change may have reduced the demand on state funds, but it raises questions about the quality of services being provided by the new service delivery agents."

The bill is feasible and it will probably bring about the indented benefits. According to Bazos and J. Hausman from the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, "State and federal funding for correctional education programs was significantly reduced throughout the 1990's while the total incarcerated population increased. Many states, such as Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa and California are further slashing correctional education budgets due to the current budgetary crisis. These states and others, such as Ohio, Michigan and Kansas are closing prisons to make the necessary cuts in state spending." The costs will certainly increase, but, as A Bazos and J. Hausman state, the average cost per serious crime prevented when using correctional education is $1,564, while incarceration costs $2,812. An investment of $1 million in correctional education should prevent almost twice as much crimes as incarceration. However, maximum effect is to be obtained only when correlating correctional education with efficient and coherent placement and counseling activities. Anyway, introducing this bill should be an important… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Assembly Bill 1914.  (2004, April 11).  Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/assembly-bill-1914-introduced/6048799

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"Assembly Bill 1914."  11 April 2004.  Web.  26 May 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/assembly-bill-1914-introduced/6048799>.

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"Assembly Bill 1914."  Essaytown.com.  April 11, 2004.  Accessed May 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/assembly-bill-1914-introduced/6048799.