Prison Time a Barrier to Employment and Success Despite Prison Education Programs

By Christopher Zoukis

Michelle Jones is a talented woman. Despite lacking internet access and print material resources, she lead a team in producing an outstanding research project on behalf of the Indiana Historical Society. She is also a playwright, specializing in historical plays, one of which ran in a live theatre. Jones’s talent doesn’t stop there. She also writes her own dance compositions, some of which were seen onstage in her historical drama Duchess of Stringtown.

With these impressive credentials, it’s no surprise that Jones was accepted into Harvard University. Whoops — not so fast.

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Early Release for 1,900 Louisiana Prisoners Concerns Law Enforcement

By Christopher Zoukis

New legislation passed in Louisiana led to 1,900 prisoners being released in early November. The aim of the legislation is to lower the state's incarceration rate — the highest in the country — and to give nonviolent prisoners a new chance at life on the outside. But not everyone is happy with this new development. Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan says that a lack of prisoner education programs in Louisiana means the sudden influx of former inmates into society will create a huge burden on the system.

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Constructing a Future: The Difference Prison Education Makes

By Christopher Zoukis

Vanessa Thompson didn’t have the best start in life. Abused from an early age, she was just 13 when she quit school and entered the foster care system. A habit of running away and doing drugs carried her into her early 20s, and her activities ultimately led to murder charges stemming from the death of a drug dealer. While Thompson proclaimed she was innocent, the judicial system disagreed.

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Soft-Skills Programming a Success in County Jail

By Christopher Zoukis

Soft skills are essential to social integration.

These are skills such as communication, empathy, organization and cognitive reasoning that enable people to interact more positively with each other. They're non-academic skills that also help people become more accountable for their actions, and to pause and think before acting irrationally.

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America's Mass Incarceration Problem By the Numbers

by Christopher Zoukis

It’s no secret that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Here’s how it breaks down.

There are approximately 323.1 million people living in the U.S. As of 2017, there are more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in American jails. That includes 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile facilities, 3,163 local jails and 76 Indian county jails. Other are held in an assortment of civil, immigration and military detention centres.

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Children With Incarcerated Parents Get Bill of Rights in Oregon

By Christopher Zoukis

One in 14 children in the U.S. has one or both parents in jail — and those children are four times more likely to end up in jail themselves. They also drop out of school at a higher rate and, if they are in foster care, are 65 percent more likely to become homeless once they age out.

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Not So Hard Time: How Some Inmates Find Success Post-release

By Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. may have the worst recidivism rate in the world at 76.6 percent, but that doesn’t mean the system has failed every prisoner. There are a handful of inspiring stories about some that went to jail and used their time to turn their lives around, got out, and made lasting differences in their communities. Here are three of those stories.

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U.S. Prisoners Among Least Rehabilitated in World

By Christopher Zoukis

It is often said that has the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Is that true? Yes. Statistics from sources like the World Prison Brief, an online database providing a look into prison systems around the world, show that America houses more than two million inmates — nearly 500,000 more than China, which is the next highest on the list.

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Students Partner With Prisoners to Learn Problem-Solving Skills

By Christopher Zoukis

Anthony Covert made a bad decision. At just 18 years of age, he had a disagreement with a peer over a girl. The two decided to duke it out, but Covert upped the ante by bringing a stolen gun to the fight.

Despite shooting his romantic rival several times, the victim survived. But now, instead of graduating from the culinary arts school he was attending, Covert is now doing 30 years for attempted murder and first and second-degree assault.

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Female Inmates Learn to Transcribe Books to Braille

By Christopher Zoukis

They may look hard to figure out for most, but a whole lot of raised dots are translating to new opportunities for a group of female inmates in New Hampshire.

The state’s department of education has joined up with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections to teach a handful of female prisoners how to transcribe learning and reading materials into Braille.

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Pups in Prison a Promising Rehabilitative Tool

By Christopher Zoukis

It’s the 1920s, and Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary is both the biggest and the most expensive public building of the era. New rehabilitation tools are being tested here, such as isolation. A new prisoner is arriving today. He’s been sentenced for murder...of a cat. His name is Pep, and he’s a dog. And the charges were completely trumped up.

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Inadequate Prison Food Linked to Bad Behavior

By Christopher Zoukis

According to research, despite the fact that eating a plant-based diet can help prevent and even reverse some of the top killer diseases in the Western world, and can be more effective than medication and surgery, the typical American diet remains high in animal protein, fat, dairy, sugar and junk food.

Poor diet leads to a host of medical issues, including higher levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone associated with cancer risk, heart disease, decreased lung function, inflammation, and even increased risk of dementia. Interestingly, poor nutrition can also play a role in violent and criminal behavior.

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Is There Really Gender Bias in the Justice System?

By Christopher Zoukis

Have you ever watched Investigation Discovery? It’s a television network owned by Discovery Communications. Investigation Discovery, or ID, as it is commonly called, shows documentary-style programs and re-enactments focusing on violent crimes, complete with expert commentary from journalists, law enforcement officers and those impacted by the crimes. Psychologists also weigh in on the shows.

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Prisons Under Trump: Going Forward, Backward or Standing Still?

By Christopher Zoukis

America has a reputation for dehumanizing rather than rehabilitating its prisoners. Jails are crowded beyond manageable levels. Privatization and for-profit measures have pushed more people into incarceration than ever before; for example, those with minor fines and misdemeanors. The prison population has a sixth-grade education level on average, and without access to prison education programs, released inmates often reoffend when their lack of education prevents them from accessing living-wage jobs.

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