Offenders reenter the community lacking basic education and job-readiness skills. As a result, released prisoners are unable to obtain family-sustaining employment. Furthermore, studies show that lack of offender employment is the largest contributing factor contributing to recidivism. An unemployed ex-offender is three times as likely to return to prison as an employed ex-offender. Initiatives focusing on offender employment demonstrate the greatest success of reducing recidivism (1).
According to career development practitioners, public policy officials can positively impact offender employment by
- Developing and instructing appropriate workplace behaviors, social skills and problem solving skills;
- Assessing offender skills, interests, strengths and talents;
- Engaging in dialogue regarding realistic expectations of the work culture;
- Incrementally building offender education and job skills; and
- Developing effective mentoring programs.
To this point, the number of Internet based educational and vocational offerings has dramatically increased. The security issues of allowing offenders to have direct access to the Internet have muted utilization of these e-distance learning opportunities. As such, correctional and community corrections settings have not utilized online resources.
However, advancements in the technology industry have eliminated these security issues. SecureLearn leverages readily available educational and vocational offerings in combination with a highly secure access infrastructure. In addition, the ability exists to have resources follow the offender as he or she progresses throughout the rehabilitation continuum. Coursework started in prison need not be abandoned once the offender enters a work-release center or is paroled. A continuity of care can be offered to improve and support offender employment opportunities.
(1) Offender Job Retention, US Department of Justice, Melissa Houston, LMSW, GCDF, March 2006.