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Crime Blog on the Huffington Post

Monday
Nov032014

Startup's Education Platform For Curbing Recidivism Launches Pilot In Philly Prison

Image courtesy fast-fwd.org

By Anne Field / Forbes

When we last met Jail Education Solutions earlier this year, the startup was part of FastFWD, a social enterprise accelerator in Philly focused on public safety.

Now, it just launched a pilot of its tablet-based wireless education system for inmates in prison and jail. It’s in the 8,500 bed correctional facility in Philadelphia and, according to co-founder Brian Hill, will be rolled out over the next several months.

As part of the FastFWD program, startups presented rfps to the city, which is why the pilot is there instead of Chicago, where the company is based. (I’ve written about FastFWD and Jail Education Solutions here and here).

In August, the company also closed a Series A round led by SustainVC and others. Hill doesn’t want to disclose the amount. A few months earlier, it raised a seed round. And in January, it was awarded $325,000 from the MacArthur Foundation which, says Hill, is one of the only times the organization has given money to a for-profit company.

Jail Education Solutions’ educational platform Edovo aims to reduce recidivism, which is rampant, by helping inmates get an education while they’re incarcerated. Studies show that educational and vocational training dramatically reduces the number of inmates who return to prison or jail.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct312014

States Are Prioritizing Prisons Over Education, Budgets Show

By Rebecca Klein / The Huffington Post

If state budget trends reflect the country's policy priorities, then the U.S. currently values prisoners over children, a new report suggests.

A report released this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the growth of state spending on prisons in recent years has far outpaced the growth of spending on education. After adjusting for inflation, state general fund spending on prison-related expenses increased over 140 percent between 1986 and 2013. During the same period, state spending on K-12 education increased only 69 percent, while higher education saw an increase of less than six percent.

budgets

State spending on corrections has exploded in recent years, as incarceration rates have more than tripled in a majority of states in the past few decades. The report says that the likelihood that an offender will be incarcerated has gone up across the board for all major crimes. At the same time, increases in education spending have not kept pace. In fact, since 2008, spending on education has actually declined in a majority of states in the wake of the Great Recession.

According to the brief, rates of violent crime and property crime have actually fallen over the years, even while incarceration rates have risen. Therefore, it appears that states' more aggressive incarceration policies are behind the higher prison rates.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct302014

Jail Offering Computer Tablets to Inmates

Image courtesy sfgate.com

By Erin Baldassari / Bay City News

Inmate education at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department just got a little more sophisticated.

Beginning this week, jail inmates will have the opportunity to access computer tablets as part of the institution’s educational programs, representatives said today.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department along with its associated charter school, partnered with New York-based American Prison Data Systems on a pilot program to provide content-secured tablets to inmates, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said.

The program is aimed at increasing an inmate’s ability to access education and reduce recidivism, Mirkarimi said.

“It’s all about public safety and crime prevention,” Mirkarimi said. “If we equip people in our custody with a desire to learn — that also requires some motivation to help them learn and to stick with it — then we are seeing less and less people return to the San Francisco jail system.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kathy Gorwood said the jail purchased 125 tablets for their roughly 1,300 inmates. Some of the tablets will be sent to the women’s facility next week, she said, while the majority will remain at the men’s facility.

Mirkarimi said tablet program is a natural extension of the jail’s Five Keys Charter High School, an independent accredited charter school on the jail’s premises that has been in operation for 11 years.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct292014

Pipeline to Prison: How the Juvenile Justice System Fails Special Education Students

Photo by Jackie Mader / Hechinger Report

By and  / The Hechinger Report

Toney Jennings was illiterate when he was arrested at age 16. In the six months he spent at the Lowndes County Jail in Eastern Mississippi, he says he played basketball, watched TV and “basically just stayed to myself.” 

A special education student, Jennings qualified for extra help in school. Those services should have carried over to the justice system, but Jennings said he never even attended class while in jail. Now 20, he is still unable to read or write.

Each year, thousands of Mississippi teens cycle through the justice system, where experts say the quality of education is often low. Incarcerated juveniles have the same educational rights as those outside – five hours of instruction a day that meet their learning needs, including special education. The state does not currently track how many of those juvenile offenders are entitled to extra education services, but according to a 2010 federal survey, 30 percent of youth in custody of the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed learning disability – six times the amount in the general population. Following several lawsuits, Mississippi has worked to improve the quality of education for all students in the system, with some successes.

Still, many of the kids who need help the most, like Toney, aren’t getting it, experts say. These students tend already to be academically behind, and encounters with the justice system early on only increase the likelihood that they’ll drop out of school or end up incarcerated as adults.

“Every day they’re not getting a real education, then that’s a day that we’ve lost,” Sue Burrell, a staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center said. “The kids that are in juvenile justice cannot afford to lose those days.”

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct282014

Joi C. Spraggins to Speak in Philadelpia

By Diane Sears   Dr. Joi C. Spraggins / Image courtesy LinkedIn.com

DR. JOI C. SPRAGGINS, recognized as a global legacy leadership expert in business, education, communications and civic engagement. is the founder and president of Legacy Pathways, LLC, an innovative management consulting and training firm specializing in leadership development, communications, education, health care reform, public policy and social justice. She will deliver remarks at the City of Philadelphia’s observance of the first annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at the First Unitarian Church at 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.  The City of Philadelphia’s observance of the First Annual “International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys” will be hosted by DR. SAMUEL BERNARD LACKEY, JR., at his “Sunday With Sam” program from 3:00 P.M. through 7:00 P.M.   The International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys will launch the observance by 80 nations – including the United States – of International Men’s Day on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 under the theme, “Working Together For Men and Boys.”   

A globally recognized expert in leadership, communications, diversity and workforce development, Dr. Joi® designs and implements best-practice performance models; provides program and public policy analyses; and structures sustainable public/private collaborations through Legacy Pathways. Her company is an innovative management consulting and training firm specializing in leadership development, communications, public health and safety, economic, diversity and workforce development programs, public policy analysis and supply chain regulatory compliance. Service industries include public health, education and justice reform, law enforcement, sports management, government, energy, construction and transportation. Our mission is to provide cutting-edge products, services and solutions that accelerate our clients’ leadership and global industry competitive advantage. The results create Legacy, Pathways and Footprints™ (LPF) that transform the lives of individuals, families, communities, businesses and the world. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct272014

Tayba Foundation Offers Correspondence Courses

Image courtesy youtube.comBy Sajad Shakoor

The Tayba Foundation offers a correspondence program for prisoners desiring to study the Islamic sciences. On the website, Tayba Foundation lists over 20 courses complete with texts, supplementary ready materials, quizzes, essay prompts, and accompanying CD commentaries and/or DVD's. All of it is in a semester format convenient to students. Currently, the Tayba Foundation has about 400 students and offers these print based courses to prisoners nation wide.

The Tayba Foundation's program is revolves around three core ideas:

  • Sound Islamic knowledge
  • Realization of the prisoner’s experience
  • Recognition of the security concerns in dealing with prisoners
  • To learn more about the Tayba Foundation's unique program, visit their site by clicking here.

    Friday
    Oct242014

    Education Board OKs Budget Requests for Teacher Pay

    By The Ada News

    Oklahoma teachers would receive a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise under a budget proposal approved Thursday by the State Board of Education, but they shouldn't plan to spend the money any time soon.

    "It is time we as a state offer better compensation to these dedicated and talented individuals who give so much of themselves in service to our children," said state Superintendent Janet Barresi.

    Gov. Mary Fallin and leaders in the GOP-led Legislature have signaled support for pay raises for Oklahoma teachers, among the lowest paid in the nation with a starting salary of $31,600. But the reality of Oklahoma's budget situation will make it difficult. Although state revenue collections are trending upward, legislative budget writers used about $290 million in one-time revenue sources to fund the current year's budget, which will eat into any growth revenue next year.

    "I'm thankful the revenue is trending the way it is, but I would caution against anyone thinking there's going to be a bucket full of extra money," said Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, the governor's top budget negotiator with the Legislature.

    State agencies routinely request tens of millions of dollars in new spending that is far more than the Legislature can appropriate.

    The state Board of Corrections met separately Thursday in Oklahoma City and approved a budget proposal asking for a more than $84 million increase for the state's prison system. The request includes $14 million for pay raises, $26 million for an increase in the number of prisoners and other requests. The total request for the upcoming fiscal year is more than $555 million.

    Doerflinger said the inflated budget requests are part of a bothersome trend of agencies developing unrealistic wish lists for new state spending.

    Doerflinger said the Office of Management and Enterprise Services plans to use a new performance-based budgeting tool in discussions with agencies this year designed to identify efficiencies and savings.

    Click to read more ...

     

    The money for the raises is part of a $2.78 billion funding request the agency is submitting for the Legislature to consider for the budget year that begins July 1. The request includes nearly $300 million in new spending.

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