Individuals in the criminal justice system reenter the community lacking basic education and job-readiness skills. As a result, released individuals are unable to obtain family-sustaining employment. Furthermore, studies show that lack of individual employment is the largest contributing factor contributing to recidivism. An unemployed individual is three times as likely to return to prison as an employed individual. Initiatives focusing on employment demonstrate the greatest success of reducing recidivism (1).
According to career development practitioners, public policy officials can positively impact employment for individuals in the criminal justice system by
- Developing and instructing appropriate workplace behaviors, social skills and problem solving skills;
- Assessing individual skills, interests, strengths and talents;
- Engaging in dialogue regarding realistic expectations of the work culture;
- Incrementally building individual 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 high risk individuals 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 individual as he or she progresses throughout the rehabilitation continuum. Coursework started in prison need not be abandoned once the individual enters a work-release center or is paroled. A continuity of care can be offered to improve and support an individual’s employment opportunities.
(1) Offender Job Retention, US Department of Justice, Melissa Houston, LMSW, GCDF, March 2006.