The goal of the Post-Prison Education Program is to dramatically reduce recidivism by harnessing the power of education and meeting the legitimate needs of former prisoners. Education opens the door to a living wage, clean and sober housing, empowered and responsible living and strengthened families—the most important factors in breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and crime, thereby increasing community safety. The Post-Prison Education Program provides access to education and unwavering support through wrap around services including tuition, housing, groceries, daycare and intensive mentoring. The Program’s innovative approach provides extensive outreach in prisons and intensive support post-release.
The Post-Prison Education Program offers hope and creates opportunity for people returning to society by providing access to higher education. Imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people are offered the tools and human support they need to find gainful, meaningful employment, and break free from cycles of hopelessness, poverty, and imprisonment and become leaders for change.
In Washington State alone, over 8,200 prisoners are released into the community every year. Prisoners are released with little or no support, $40, medication to last two weeks (if suffering from mental illness) and one set of clothing. They have often accrued significant debt (Legal Financial Obligations); have the stigma of incarceration; are undereducated and barred from employment opportunities, thus remaining in a cycle of intergenerational poverty, debt, and homelessness. It is for these reasons that 43% return to prison within the first five years with one or more new felony convictions. In 2008, of the 28,671 former prisoners actively supervised on probation, 3,867 were known to be homeless. The incarceration cost of one individual is $36,000 per year. However, the actual cost including arrest, prosecution, court fees, attorney fees, etc. total more than $500,000 of taxpayer money per person. The Post-Prison Education Program has proven that for $6,700 per person per annum, one can meet the legitimate needs of former prisoners, which is a significantly more cost-effective method of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety and curbing high costs to society.
Studies show that two years of post-secondary education reduces the rate of recidivism by more than 50%. Through an Outcome Data analysis in 2009, University of Washington researchers determined the Program’s rate of recidivism to be zero. Currently, our rate of recidivism is less than 2%, which is a testament to our proven methods. The Program only admits individuals who are at significant risk of recidivating based on their extensive prison sentences. The Post-Prison Education Program fights to create hope where there is none through inspiring presentations inside prisons and intensive support upon release. The Program mentors and guides students and their families to gain access to resources and to become sustainable and contributing members of society. Furthermore, our students tutor, mentor and volunteer to help others succeed in breaking the cycle of incarceration and create safer communities. The Program accomplishes its goals by meeting the legitimate frugal needs of former prisoners simultaneous to linking them with post-secondary education, building meaningful mentorship relationships, and delivering consequential support services whether they are housing, legal representation, mental health counseling, or tutoring. We accomplish these goals by spending only a fraction of the costs of prosecution and incarceration. The Program’s success not only dramatically reduces recidivism and increases public safety, but also ensures that students have stable jobs, strong families, and productive lives.