Improving employment and education for people with criminal records

Recently, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, “Ending the School to Prison Pipeline,” where California business and community leaders brainstormed strategies for improving education and employment opportunities for individuals with criminal records.

Research continues to show that education and employment reduce the risk for reoffending. Not only does this promote community safety, it also saves states money on incarceration costs. According to research from the RAND Corporation, states can save $5 on re-incarceration costs for every $1 invested in correctional education.

Yet, people with criminal records often face barriers to accessing the employment and education opportunities that would help them successfully reintegrate into their communities as contributing members.

California’s business and community leaders discussed ways to overcome these barriers and improve education and employment outcomes. Ideas included conducting interviews before an individual’s release; supporting entrepreneurial programs; reexamining hiring practices to make them more inclusive; sharing industry needs and skill gaps with corrections departments; and connecting qualified workers with community workforce providers.

Attendees also discussed the benefits of correctional education programs, which may help individuals obtain their diploma and enroll in intensive curriculum-based courses in construction, job preparation, computers skills and other subjects. Such programs also lead to better employment outcomes as well as lower rates of recidivism. Additionally, violence in correctional facilities often goes down when inmates are involved in educational programs.

GEO Reentry Services works with counties throughout California to address these very issues. GEO’s reentry programs equip individuals with criminal records with the training, skills, education and resources they need to return to the workforce and successfully reenter their communities.