Teaching The Incarcerated In The State Arkansas Education Essay

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This paper explores teaching of inmates as a form of rehabilitation within the state of Arkansas located in the southern region of The United States of America. With a population of about three million residents, Arkansas is faced with the challenge of incarcerating the ever rising number of offenders within the confines of its border. Arkansas department of correction has jurisdiction over incarceration and rehabilitation of all prisoners in the State of Arkansas. The department structures and develops programmes aimed at rehabilitating all the prisoners in the county, city and state prisons in the state of Arkansas.

Background Information

According to Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research (2008), there were about 15,848 prisoners under Arkansas department of correction. The average age of offenders was 36 for males and 37 years for their female counterparts. The average sentence for these inmates was about nine years and twenty five days whilst the average time served is about two years nine months and eight days. Males constitute the highest percentage of prisoners taking about 92.2% while in terms of race, whites are the majority constituting about 51%, blacks come in 2nd with 46%, Hispanic 2.6% whilst others are the minority representing 0.4% of all inmates. Arkansas department of correction under the guidance of the Federal Bureau of Prisons protects the society by confining all inmates in secure, safe and humane facilities whilst providing rehabilitation through programmes and other self-development opportunities that seek to re-integrate inmates back to the society upon completion of their sentence as productive citizens. In addition, this initiative further reduces crime rates in the society by reducing recidivism thus making sure that prisons serve as correctional facilities in the long run. Educating the prisoners in the State Arkansas is therefore a key integral part of rehabilitation policies pursued by both the state of Arkansas and the federal government. Education in prisons takes place at various levels depending on the education level of the inmates. The main aim of educating prisoners is to make them acquire literacy and expertise in occupational fields to help them secure employment once they are released back to the society. In the State of Arkansas, the first formal teaching programme was initiated in 1968 by the England School District which was a night programme. In subsequent years, other district emulated this noble exercise. In 1973 a school district was established within Arkansas Department of Correction through an act of the General Assembly.

Arkansas Guidelines and Requirements for and of Prisoner's Education

Education of inmates within the state of Arkansas is provided by Arkansas Department of Correction School District with terms of reference in form of accreditation and supervision delegated to Arkansas Department of Education. According to the General Assembly Act 279 which established Arkansas Department of Correction School District, the purpose of the district is "to provide elementary, secondary, and vocational technical education to all persons incarcerated in the Department of Correction facilities who are not high school graduates, irrespective of age..." This makes education compulsory for all inmates who have not cleared high school and who are in a position to learn. Coupled with Federal Bureau of Prisons policies on education of inmates, the district provides non graded programmes to inmates to ensure that progress is an individual affair because inmate's entry and exit from the education system is at the discretion of their respective sentences. Usually academic testing at orientation stages determines track placement for inmates. Regular testing of inmates in this programme normally after every three months determines grades and one may proceed to higher tracks eventually earning a high school diploma or GED. In addition literacy education, federal government demands that inmates go through vocational and occupational training established programs in all prisons across the country.

Objectives for Teaching Inmates in Arkansas

The main aim for provision of education to inmates is to:-

To provide an opportunity for inmates to complete education for those who did not complete high school

To reduce recidivism by preparing inmates for the job market upon release

To improve the quality of life by providing educational opportunities for all inmates.

Teaching programs for inmates at Arkansas

Inmates teaching programs at Arkansas are diverse ranging from literacy education for inmates who did not complete high school to vocational and occupational training of inmates which is a prerequisite of the federal government which is under the jurisdiction of Federal Bureau of Prisons. As soon as inmates enter Arkansas correctional department they are taken to the diagnostic centre where they go through tests to determine their academic level. In addition inmates are also asked about their past involvement in school. Those with no verified high school diploma are immediately enrolled in school once they reach their unit. Inmates who scored similar grades in the orientation standardized achievement test are placed at similar tracks which reflect their intellectual ability however most units use reading ability as a tracking tool since the standardized tests are more often than not contingent on reading ability.

Instructional methods vary with the type of teaching that inmates are enrolled for; in academic education learning mainly takes place in classrooms located within the facilities. An instructor teaches all if not most subjects to particular "tracks" of inmates who are placed in same academic level. The main teaching method employed is classroom instruction, computer assisted instruction, video programs and GED on TV. Other materials used for instruction includes power point aided slides and smart boards. Curriculum materials constitute of literally materials ideal for adult education like books, magazines, journals and so many more.

Vocational education is based at the Riverside Vocational Technical School. The school's main goal is to equip inmates with marketable expertise to make them self reliant and productive members of the society upon release. Teaching is at the discretion of an inmate's ability to grasp and demonstrate acquired skills. Instructional methods are to a large extent demonstrative or practical with limited classroom instruction. In addition on job training is further provided by many teaching programs integrated within ADC rehabilitation.

The correction facility offers among others, the following courses:


Inmates are instructed and get equipped with necessary knowledge and skills that allows them to understand the working habits and develop know-how in farming, animal and plant husbandry, vegetable, milk and meat processing. The course has a capacity of around two hundred and sixty trustees. The unit is aimed to develop an impact on approximately two thousand, one hundred and thirteen inmates per year. For an inmate to enter into this program, he/she has to complete an initial assignment for sixty days in order to earn a trustee status. The course is instructed by the ADC component staff, and it is comprised of the following subcomponents; Equipment repair and maintenance, manufacturing of livestock feeds, horticulture, products distribution, production of wheat and cotton, irrigation management, horse trainers and horse production, operation of heavy equipments, fruit, nuts and hay production, swine, rice, soybean and poultry operation, butcher, vegetable production and processing, meat processing and production, milk processing and production, furrier, grain drying and storage, aquaculture, aviary among others. The comprehensive course enables the inmates to be well conversant with all agricultural activities that will make them all-round productive after serving their respective terms in agriculture field.

Alcoholism, anonymity, and cocaine volunteer services

These services are provided majorly by volunteers. They cover a wide range of services that include: - provision of transport services to families of inmates, provision of medical services to unassigned inmates, taking care of visitors children, hospice services, recreational facilities like yoga, relaxation therapy, provision of pet therapies, various resource manuals for inmates' families like toys and games for children, parking facilities for inmates' visitors during visitation, among others. Some of these services impact immensely on other people especially during blood transfusion drives where even staffs also participate, aiding to ADC families who are in need, assisting in setting up community events and awareness like the Red Ribbon Week and the Arkansas Special Olympics. These training facilities are open to all inmates, and are aimed to impact over two thousand individuals every month. Due to its good curricula, these facilities normally attract a high number of inmates who participate actively with keen interest; all is needed is an inmate to volunteers him/herself, since there is already available volunteer coordinator. To increase its efficiency, impact and coverage, the service program is divided into the following subprograms: Alcoholic Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics anonymous.

The integral part of this program is the provision of religious services and substance abuse programs on a voluntary basis which help the inmates to recreate their souls. It also provides a channel of communication to the outside community which help in supporting a network for release. In addition, it operates at a very minimal cost, thus economical to both the state and facility. Furthermore, it helps in bringing salient and positive current and future role models. Last but not least, it takes place after normal facility operation hours; therefore it does not interrupt normal operation hours of the facility.

Anger management class

This is a psycho-educational teaching class which help inmates in identifying, understanding, controlling and managing anger. It targets at inmates who have shown or demonstrated anger control problem either through violent, domestic and criminal behaviour while in the facility, any form of aggression within institutional setting. The program has a capacity of approximately fifteen inmates in each class, and it impacts around fifteen hundred inmates every year. The program operates under Parole Board Mandated, Volunteerism, and is taught by Mental Health Staff.

Construction and Maintenance Program

This program entails construction and maintenance of departmental facilities. Inmates are thought in this program by providing on job training. Inmates who have successfully passed vocational training at the Riverside Vocational Technical School in construction related expertise like carpentry, plumbing and masonry offer on job training opportunities to inmates. The ADC reduces its operational and construction cost by using ADC staff but inmate labor in the program. Inmates in this program must demonstrate ability to learn the required technical skills, meet satisfactory security status and successfully gone through a 60 day vocational training program. Methods of instruction include practical demonstration and theoretical literature. The program has a capacity of about 500 inmates on a daily basis with a projection of 1011 successful inmates trainee annually. Inmates can enrol in any offer the following subcomponents integrated within the program; Carpentry, painter, Electrical, Roofer, Heating and air conditioning, Concrete finisher, Plumbing and Masonry.

Braille and Large Print Program

This program entails transcription of textbooks and other literally materials into Braille for Arkansas's School. Inmates are absorbed in this program to learn Braille coding whilst providing exemplary services to the State of Arkansas by enlarging print materials for the legally blind. The program is based at the Wrightsville Unit and has a capacity of 15 inmates yearly. Basic requirements to be enrolled in this program are but not limited to; Disciplinary free track record for a minimum period of 6 months, verified GED or high school diploma, 5-8 years left on incarceration period, class I-C status and ability to not only learn but work with minimum supervision and self motivation as well.

College program

With a primary goal of reducing barriers between an inmate and the opportunity to pursue his or her education, the ADC established the college program in 1998 which receive financial aid from the Department of Education. All the required college courses are integrated within this program thus enabling one to acquire an Associate of Arts Degree from a recognised institution of higher learning upon successful completion of the program. Minimum requirements for this program are; a certified GED or high school diploma, admission into an institution of higher education, no pending transfers or parole in the course of a semester and ability to finance one's education in the event that one is not eligible for grants. Inmates who wish to receive grants for this program should be 25 years and below and be serving a sentence not exceeding 5 years. The program is conducted by a Volunteer Coordinator and college staff. Due to constant progress in this program, subprograms vary with semester with a basic principle of self discipline, goal orientation and educational development. The program mainly operates at night to facilitate normal institutional operation.

Industry program

This program entails both on job training and expertise advancement for inmates who already have knowledge in manufacturing settings. The program is based at Wrightsville unit which has a capacity of 530 male and 14 female inmates. Industrial line of operation in this program deals in products and affiliate services confined within tax dependant and non-profit agencies. For an inmate to be absorbed in this program he or she must complete 60 day prerequisite job assignment delegated by the classification committee. Monitoring and evaluation of inmates in the program is a reserve of ADC industry personnel. The program has many subprograms differentiated along production level, end products, stage of production and service. The main subprograms are; Furniture manufacturing, Vehicle and equipment refurbishing, Vinyl Products, Metal Fabrication, Upholstery, Garment and case goods, Data Entry, Janitorial Products, Graphic Arts and Printing, Refurbishing Furniture, Recreation equipment and Silk screening signs. The program seeks to equip inmates with ethical work habits and mastery of marketable job skills that will enable them return to society as productive members. Inmates who have gone through this program successfully are given certificates of achievement as a sign of expertise in a particular field.

Hobby Craft Program

This program seeks to recognise and put to good use inmates skills in artwork. Inmates engage in art and design by producing leather products, ornaments, cloth artifacts, wooden carvings and decorations. Inmates enrolled in this program produce artwork products for sale or gifts and in the process go through training in art and design which equips them with professional skills in the job market or entrepreneurship skill for those who wish to go into business upon completion of their sentences. The program exists in most units though capacity varies according to availability of facilities and staff. Inmates in this program must have Class I classification status and approval from the relevant unit administration. Due to the limited number of vacancies in this program inmate's intake is also based on availability of a vacancy. The staffs of these facilities are the Unit Hobby Craft Officers. The program has many subprogram defined by type of artwork and products. This includes but not limited to; leather craft, drawing, String art and macramé, Wood working and decoupage, Oil and watercolor painting and staffed animals.

Habilitation Program

This a program that seeks to address the needs of cognitively impaired inmates by providing a safe rehabilitation facility for them whilst instilling coping skills necessary for successful re-integration back into society upon completion of their sentences. In addition the program entails referrals of these "challenged inmates" to appropriate social welfare agencies and community resources once they are out of ADC. The program is based at the Tucker Unit where about 36 inmates pass through this program annually. As a result of dealing with inmates with special needs, inmates are required to go through a diagnosis of mental retardation and or in conjunction with ADC adaptive qualities be subjected to borderline intellectual functioning and/or impairments to be able to ascertain placement to this program. The program is a reserve of the mental health department with discrete program components that include; screening and assessment of inmate's intellectual ability, adaptive capabilities and skills assessment, guiding in daily convectional living skills, work programs and teaching programs

These teaching programs have greatly reduced recidivism according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons State of the Bureau report (2006), "Research has found that inmates who participate in education programs are 16 percent less likely to recidivate than nonparticipating offenders." In addition fifty percent of the money earned by these inmates which is about 23¢ t- $1.15 per hour in Federal Prisons Industries is ploughed back into the economy in form of court ordered fines, family support and victim restitution. A study conducted by Alliance for Excellent Education published in the brief issue of August 2006 reveals that an increase by five percent of inmates who have acquired a high school diploma or GED would result in Annual Crime- Related Savings of about $52,527,329, Additional Annual Earnings of $24,825,605 and cumulative benefit to the State of Arkansas Economy to a tune of $77,352,934.


Arkansas is one of the major states in the southern region of USA. The state just like many others has witnessed a rise in the number of offenders in recent past and has therefore resolved to rehabilitate and release prisoners prior to completion of their sentences. ADC is mandated to undertake incarceration and rehabilitation of all offers in the State of Arkansas. Prisoners are taught on various ideals, skills and given an opportunity to complete their basic education before being released to the society to make them self reliant and to reduce recidivism. The state has enforced compulsory education of inmates who do not have a high school diploma or GED. In addition the State the state runs various programs as a prerequisite of the federal government to equip inmates with marketable skills through vocational education and occupational training. Inmates who are enrolled in these programs acquire marketable skills through on job training. Some of these teaching programs include; agriculture, industry, college, hobby craft construction and maintenance among many others. This form of rehabilitation has been successful as the state has reduced some costs by using inmate's labor, producing products for sale and reducing recidivism by enabling inmates acquire a source of livelihood once they complete their sentences.