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Prison Education

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An Extraordinary Opportunity – and a Challenge

Prisons are over-crowded and recidivism rates are at an all-time high causing Government Agencies and Grassroots Organizations to look for meaningful ways to reverse these trends. According to a report recently released by the Rand Corporation, “Researchers found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not.” Access to on-line courses and the ability to utilize the World Wide Web to supplement their learning is an essential element in today’s educational system. 

However, questions of security and free access to the internet are causes of concern for Correctional Facilities. COEP offers a safe, fast, and secure way to provide education and information in an off-line manner. For the end user, COEP, with its search engine, catalog, and wealth of information, functions exactly like the Internet; hence all the skills gained using COEP will translate effortlessly to the Internet.


In addition, the Rand Corporation also found "prison education programs are cost effective, with a $1 investment in prison education reducing incarceration costs by $4 to $5 during the first three years post-release." Education is a proven first step toward improving the prospects of incarcerated individuals upon their release from prison and to greatly reducing rates of recidivism. It’s also a comparatively small price to pay.


Prison Education Articles

Testimonials about Technology in prisons:

"Being able to research with wiki-taxi has helped to be able to find more information. Maybe things that are not in the textbooks. We are able to dive deeper into subjects. It is a good resource for looking up information. It also gives us more time to learn more about computers so we are not as far behind when we are released."
- A. Cole
"The access of technology such as computers and the programs available on them, has opened a whole new world of information and data that was not available before, when the lab consisted of nothing but your classmates and school books. The opportunity to use programs such as wiki-taxi makes available information that seemed before impossible to attain. The chance to simply type in any subject and receive unending amounts of information and research has given students inside prison a chance at truly becoming academically successful. We now have the chance to go somewhere and learn about subjects such as typing and software such as Microsoft Word, Access, and Excel, programs that can give us skills we can apply when we get out. Students who have been gone for decades are receiving the opportunity to catch up to the rest of the world. The access to technology at Lee College inside prison has given us the edge we need, so that when we get out we are not years behind everybody else, so that [when] we go to job interviews and are asked about creating databases on Access or financial sheets on Excel, we can no only say we know how but that we have hands-on experience."
- P. Canto
"Technology keeps us locked up from being too far behind once we're free. More knowledge to our mind continuing to education one self on all levels. We also learn quicker, get more done in a timely matter, keeps us sharp in that field."
- B. Smith
"Technology on Ferguson Unit has helped me a whole lot by providing me with many resources to any and many topics that relate to class topics. Even further the technology at Ferguson has helped me to self-education myself to research any topic that comes to mind. Providing me with 'detailed information'." - E. Elias
As a returning Lee College student from 2001, technology was not even close to what it is today. When I was at the Hightower Unit we did have a computer but the programs were much different. I barely learned how to use Windows and that was because I took a computer science class. I've been here on Ferguson going on a year and a half and the computers at study hall have really gotten me going. Now I have learned how to use Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for my Cabinet making class I took. Powerpoint I learned in my marketing class and now I've learned to create files and get around the system without much help. Wikitaxi by far had  been the biggest help becaues even though it gives you info up until 2012, it always has what you are looking for. = r. flores
"I love computers. I've been incarcerated for 7 yrs. The computer lab makes me feel a part of the "current" world. Seeing the up-to-date software is cool. I can look up appropriate info, make graphs, spreadsheets, etc. Some of these dudes have never even touched a pc in their lives. You must be well versed in technology these days. It is and should be very much a part of rehabilitating an individual back into society. It is used in a lot of professions and home activities (buying products, paying bills . . . and donating to Lee College. Ha! Ha! Lol)." - W. Fuller
"I do believe from my Education Experience while attending Lee College, which their are benefits surrounding the Technology at the IT lab. First, I am able to have options within a timely manner to complete different course's assignments, homework, even personal accomplishments such as writing a start-up book. I can even practice skills such as typing which I have fallen unskilled in. There are many opportunities and benefits to why having the IT lab throughout the week. I wish we could have more programs available actually, but I am thankful for the things we do have and even more which can come. I would like to thank you for your support, and I appreciate your considerations." - A. Jeffery
"This day of technology has given me a better insight on what to do as a student. It helps me detail information where I won't be lost but understand everything from the jump. Technology makes education easier to communicate from each other as student to teachers." - J. Latson
"I have over 160 hours with Lee College and have experienced study hall when it was just a few hard heads with our books trying to learn something. Man, try writing an English paper for the late great Mr Dean with minimum amount of information on the subject. Now that study hall has evolved into a computer lab complete with updated power point slides, current semester's syllabi, and especially wiki-taxi, it allows us to do thorough research on subjects pertaining to our assignments. I have recently navigated ways Excel can help in GISC courses with Mrs. Lewis. And more importantly I was given the opportunity to hammer out a real world business plan with a retired investment banker in Mr. Clay's Entrepreneurship class, that was a hard "A" to obtain. So now due to the computer lab in study hall I can leave out of here with experience in Windows and programs such as PowerPoint, Excel, Access & Word. I now have two finalized business plans in fields I seriously want to start a business in. Without the computer skills alone such as words per minute exercises a person such as me will have serious problems surviving in todays bus. environment. So thank you Dean Zuniga, Ms Wagaman, IT and all those who invested in the lab. We appreciate it and are better students because of it." - A. Lay
"I am both a tutor and student at Lee College. I have experienced education both before and after a computer lab. I graduated from Lee College in 2001 with two degrees, however I value education so when after many attempts to transfer for for the opportunity of higher education was met with repeated rejections once the opportunity to re-enroll was afforded I jumped at it with both feet!
Since coming back I have had the pleasure to go to the computer lab to help others as well as myself. What I have seen are two great advantages afforded students. The first is for the computer illiterate students to begin the journey toward computer literacy which is a skill set that will be direly needed upon exiting the prison system as we have advanced in our society to a point where we use computers for virtually everything. The second advantage is that where we once had to be in environments inconducive to study we can do it in one where everyone is engaged in educational pursuits. During this time we can now research topics we are learning about as well as people and concepts we are learning about or want to know more about. There are more added advantages to the overall and environment with the addition of computers but for the sake of time I hope I have conveyed enough to provide you a window into the added advantages of a computer lab/study hall for incarcerated students." - T. Lee
"Before coming to this unit and attending Lee college, I had been at another unit attending college there. Education is always a plus if one is willing to open and expand their minds to learning. However, the greatest difference maker of my learning was/is the lab upstairs on this unit. I am able to go and research anything school related and get it done in hours as compared to waiting to go to the library and hoping to find books on the subject matter. The lab has helped me so much because before coming here, I was computer illiterate. I did not know much of anything about using a computer. Now, thank God, I'm able to make PowerPoints, type faster and other small things I'm learning on. Having the lab is very convenient. I'm able to go and learn about the classes I'm taking and get ahead, or simply just touch upon them. A few semesters ago, I had sociology class and had to do research on Hispanics. I would of never been able to find that kind of information in the books here, but thankfully, I used the lab and aced the assignment. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be enrolled in the college although I'm behind these walls. I won't let it hinder my future goals, learning and education are virtues. I enjoy the Lab because the information is endless of what you can find. I hope that if I have to go to another unit for college that they have a program like it. It is really a blessing. One of the things I also enjoy is the Britannica Dictionary. I read a lot and words I don't know the meaning to, I'll write down and take the list and look up the words. I don't own a small dictionary." - E. Lopez
"Technology can help me since my incarceration of being able to find out about my research of whatever I'm seeking, without having to go through books, it's taught me how to navigate for different subjects or information I want to know of, such as health, fashion, religion, etc. Also it teaches better than the text books does." - J. Mosley
"Technology as help me in a lot of areas. Most importantly it has help me increase my academics in college. I failed every class when I took the entrance level exams. I needed tutors so I could pass my remedial classes. I didn't have a tutor at hand, so I use wiki taxi to help me understand my reading, math, and writing skills. It has help me beyond words can explain. By typing in a few words to get to your site has helped me start my college career." - A. White
"The computer in the study hall/lab have been a lifesaver for me. I'm 52 years old with zero computer skills. I'm taking the intro to computers and without the extra time in the study hall, I would be failing. Computer skills are an absolute necessity in the "world" nowadays. Thank you for providing this." - M. Primrose
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