Report from the United States To the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Chair in Applied Research for Education in Prison

Robert J. Hill University of Georgia
September 12, 2012

Prisoners’ Right to Education and Preparedness for Social Integration


  1. I. Distributed Nature of Prison Education in the United States (U.S.).

Analysis must be done on a state by state basis and at the federal level. Resources for education vary widely as does prision population (e.g., Maine has the lowest number at 273 prison inmates/100,000; Minnesota has 300/100,000; Texas has 1,000/100,000 and Louisiana the highest with 1,138/100,000)


  1. II. Economy of Scale

Data on resources spent, success (however defined), inequality of incarceration (racial profiling; recidivism; degree of social integration; quality of training, skills and knowledge programs etc.) must be commensurate with Point I above.

  1. III. Violence Prevention Education.

At all levels of the prison industrial complex there
must be anti-violence education. Violence is tolerated (and at times encouraged) by captors; gang violence is rampant in prisons; rape and sexual slavery are common; and the unique situation of transsexual individuals must be a part of educational efforts. This education must extend not only to behaviour in prison but to behaviour on release and reintegration.

  1. IV. Education Programs Must Reflect Potential Negative Experiences in Schooling

Prior to Incarceration. Of then inmates have had negative pre-K – 12 (preparatory education) school experiences that make “prison education” a barrier to learning due to prior out-of-prison school experiences.


  1. V. Education, Safety and Reintegration Issues Focusing on “Special Populations.”

Prisons often have what might be called “special populatoons” whose needs are different from the main (dominant society) populations. These include indigenous people (First Nation/Natives/Aborriginal); Immigrants (in the U.S. this is especially true of inmates from Mexico); gay, lesbian, intersexual and transsexual people; etc.

  1. VI. Publicizing the Negative Role of Prison Industrial Complex Lobbyists in Washington, DC

The enormity of lobbing efforts (at state and federal levels, e.g. at the federal level to Homeland Security; Immigration Customs Enforcement; the Dept. of Justice, etc.) is a silent repressive force that is not spoken about but that huge impacts. For instance, it has been recently noted that one company that controls about ó of the private prison beds in the U.S. has spent $14.5 million on lobbying efforts! There needs to ne an investigation of the impact by lobbyist on legislators and government officials and the impacts on education and social integration. Most of the money spent by prison administrations goes to non-educational, non-skills training but rather to operations and administration.


  1. VII. The Disproportionate Distribution of Revenue Streams.

Linked to Point V above is the disproportionate distribution of revenue streams within the prison industrial complex ($9US of every $10US goes to prison financing including incarceration tools and materials, service guard contracts—especially with “out sourcing” of services, etc.). Correctional expenditures are now out pacing budget growth for general education, civil society transportation and public assistance. Only Medicaid spending is growing faster that state correction spending. Since the U.S. Recession that began in earnest in 2008, allocation for education at the state and federal levels have dropped dramatically. The “trimming” of services is especially evident in prison education and health care and community supervision and integration efforts. What impact does this have on climate conditions within prisons and esp. on reintegration in light of the “right to education”?


  1. VIII. Disproportionate Imprisonment and its Impacts on Reintegration.

In the U.S. 1 in 31 adults are either in prison, on parole or on probation (2008)—nearly one-third of the population! Of this number: 1 in 11 are African American (>10%); 1 in 27 Latino/a (4%); 1 in 45 (Euro-American/White). This must be studied on a state by state basis. For example, in Georgia, 1 in 13 people are under some form of punishment regime.


  1. Educating Civil Society.

In the U.S., often the prevailing attitude is that prisoners should have few or no rights. A task before is the education of civil society actors and policy makers to the necessity of: (a) prisoners right to education, training and skills development; (b) the right to social integration, jobs, and “another chance” opportunity.