Help Prisoners and their children build literacy skills together

Prison Education

Adult Family Literacy

Focuses on the literacy needs of the 2,000,000 functionally-illiterate adults the ABE centers serve. It is an online distance learning solution, which many ABE centers can use for distance learning reimbursement. Because family plans never expire, students and their families can continue to use them and ABE centers can continue to receive reimbursement.

  • Puts students in charge of their own learning, motivating them, helping them learn to make decisions and building independence.
  • Provides an opportunity to work in teams which accelerates learning, builds team problem solving skills, builds communications skills and makes learning more fun!
  • Covers every reading skill necessary for proficiency, ensuring that adults fill in their skill gaps and achieve the highest literacy level possible.

Family Literacy and Prison Education

An estimated 70 percent of the juvenile justice population suffer from learning disabilities, and 33 percent read below the fourth grade level1. Over half of adult inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade level2. After completing their sentences, how are these people going to capture and maintain a job at a living wage and avoid recycling back into crime and prison? By learning to read! The Educational Testing Service reported3 that the most common finding of twenty years of research is that inmates exposed to education programs are more likely to be employed and less likely to end up back in prison than non-participants. A 2013 RAND Corporation study showed that participation in prison education, including both academic and vocational programming, was associated with an over 40 percent reduction in recidivism—saving $4 to $5 for each dollar spent4.

Back in 1992, the Texas Criminal Justice Council published a Reading to Reduce Recidivism,5 concluding that computer-assisted instruction was effective in improving reading skills for prisoners, potentially reducing recidivism (the study did not continue long enough to prove that correlation.) In 2008, Roger Smith of Sumpter County, FL Corrections and Marilyn Jaeger Adams of Soliloquy Learning showed that the use of computer-assisted guided oral reading significantly improved prisoner reading fluency and comprehension6.

However, as shown by a 1997-8 trial of reading software use to improve prisoner reading skills in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, if the prison staff use education services removal as punishment for misbehavior, few prisoners if any will spend enough time on task to benefit. The Texas Criminal Justice Council study also pointed out that the inclusion of even a few prisoners who are not interested in improving their literacy can destroy implementation for the entire cohort. Finally, as shown in Sumpter County, FL, if education programs start at too high a level, prisoners will not benefit. Prisoners reading at or below the 6th grade level may need to start working on 2nd or 3rd grade level texts in order to benefit.

The solution? Focus prison education programs on core reading skills first, only working up to GED-level materials after proving mastery in 8th grade literacy.

1J Wald, DJ Losen – New directions for youth development, 2003.
2Hyte & Tracy-Mumford – Breaking The Cycle of inmate recidivism, 2013.
3Hendricks, Hendricks & Kauffman – Literacy, Criminal Activity, and Recidivism, 1996.
4Davis, Bozick, Steele, Saunders &Miles – Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education, 2013.
5Criminal Justice Policy Council, Reading to Reduce Recidivism, 1992.
6Smith & Adams, Efficacy of Computer-Mediated Guided Oral Reading for Developing Reading Fluency and Comprehension among ABE-Level Prison Inmates, 2008.


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