HOUSTONxSHAKERS (TEDxHouston Talks) Message Board › Project Idea: Improving Inmate Literacy

Project Idea: Improving Inmate Literacy

Autif K.
user 4371854
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 2
So, I just started this job with Lindamood-Bell. I'm basically a tutor for reading. We watched pieces of an interesting documentary about how majority of inmates have a low level of literacy. This documentary was about San Diego. But, I figured, what the hell, let's see whether this is true for Texas too.

Here is a link to some pretty interesting numbers: http://www.literacyte...­

There are a bunch of great numbers in there, but I think the simplest one was that more than 60% of all state and federal corrections inmates can barely read or write. There are so many jobs that require reading and writing. If you can't get a job, you'll do a task that doesn't require writing. Neither stealing or dealing drugs require reading or writing, so those options seem reasonable given those circumstances.

Anyway, going to correctional facilities and improving the literacy rate of inmates would both save a lot of money for the state and would definitely give them a step up in life. Check out those numbers when you get the chance. We can discuss further detail regarding this project if anyone has any interest.

Autif

A former member
Post #: 1
This is a very interesting thread; thank you for starting it! I'd definitely be interested in discussing this topic more. I'm very interested in thinking about and exploring ways to address social problems through addressing root issues such as illiteracy. You, and others, might be interested in the documentary The House I Live In, which explores the "war on drugs." It doesn't directly speak to illiteracy, but it speaks to the impact of education on crime.The House I Live In
Autif K.
user 4371854
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 4
Oh yea. I think I've seen that documentary. I remember it being extremely informative. I have another question.

So, I think you're totally right that illiteracy is a root social issue, but I'm wondering whether there's something more fundamental than that. I'll show you what I mean. A patient enters a doctor's office. That patient gets cured. The next patient comes in. That patient gets cured. And, this process continues forever because people will keep acquiring diseases. I think that's similar to providing reading and writing instruction to inmates in correctional facilities. Their illiteracy will be remedied, but new inmates who are illiterate will continue to enter correctional facilities. So, what I want to know is how do you basically shut off the valve to that pipeline of illiterate inmates to correctional facilities? Why are there illiterate inmates in the first place? Let me know what you think.

Autif
Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 57
I love the idea. Here's another: why not start at juvenile detention centers? Start young, and maybe give some hope? I'm in!
Autif K.
user 4371854
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 5
I love the idea. Here's another: why not start at juvenile detention centers? Start young, and maybe give some hope? I'm in!

So, the idea of starting at juvenile detention centers is definitely more fundamental than starting at correctional facilities because if they are brought to a level of literacy earlier, then that means less of them will have to resort to crime as a preoccupation or resource.

For me, that brings up another question: What percent of students who are in juvenile detention centers have a low level of literacy? If it is a majority of them, why weren't they literate?

Ideally, if it turned out that having a low level of literacy strongly correlated with students who went to juvenile detention centers, then we would want to figure out how to have them achieve an acceptable level of literacy and how to prevent them from going to juvenile detention centers in the first place. Presumably, a higher level of literacy would lower the likelihood that they would go to a juvenile detention center. I still have to think about why that might be true.
A former member
Post #: 5
I like this concept. Would it help to talk to the administrators of both these entities to see what they think about where can be an effective start?, just as a data point to consider.

A former member
Post #: 6
Or even with the inmates or detained juveniles. They may not know the statistics but could tell us their view.
Autif K.
user 4371854
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 6
I like this concept. Would it help to talk to the administrators of both these entities to see what they think about where can be an effective start?, just as a data point to consider.


Yea, that's definitely a good start.
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