TED @ Ironwood State Prison

Let me make it clear: this is not a post for Ford Motor Company. Yeah, they make nice cars. I put 236,000 miles on my 2000 Mercury Mountaineer and had no complaints with it. But this post is about education for incarcerated inmates.

Click HERE to watch a TED Talk that took place at the Ironwood State Penitentiary in Blythe, CA. It holds education as one of its primary goals and works with a local college to meet it. Check out the Huffington Post ARTICLE that discusses CA’s biggest educational program in its state.

But more generally, to me it just makes sense that society would work harder at educating its inmates. After all, we have earlier learned that these individuals (93-98% will be released from prison) do get released from prison. So the question then becomes: “What has society produced during this time?” Have we worked toward making each inmate better or worse? If better, than how have we done this?


9 responses to “TED @ Ironwood State Prison”

  1. Michael Brody says:

    I hope that more events like this become the norm not on the outside of prisons, but inside, directly addressing inmate audiences in person to make them better individuals. Given personal opinion, we need to work harder to make inmates better, wholesome citizens upon release.
    The work of Western et al. is highly relatable here, which analyzes the difference that education can make from keeping individuals out of jail.
    If our society is paying approximately $54,000 [cost in NY] per year per prisoner we should make the most by educating our inmates to cut our long-term costs, this just seems rational. It is rational because releasing educated inmates will pay back dividends by them being responsible, productive citizens, and most importantly, being taxpayers. To me, it is important to think long-term, to silence critics of additional prison programs such as education as they say it adds too much cost to incarceration, but that view is shortsighted, respectively.

  2. Paxton Bergin says:

    I think that by making an effort to push prison education on inmates it really shows to inmates that their are alternates to prison. Richard Branson, founder of VIRGIN group employs almost 60,000 people, many of those who are ex convicts. This shows other cons that there is a possibility of success outside of prison. They may not be able to find jobs right away but businesses like Branson’s are taking in former inmates in order to provide them with opportunity. These opportunities when paired with education greatly reduces the recidivism rate of cons. This gibes me a little bit of encouragement that we are working to make inmates better persons by providing them with skills that are useful on the outside of prison. With the use of prison education programs, or jobs available to convicts I believe that we are starting to head in the right direction.

  3. Kasey Miller says:

    I definitely believe that we need to work harder in making a smooth transition from prison life to the life on the outside. With almost every inmate getting out of prison at some point in time, we need to make changes so they just don’t end up in the same position. The recidivism rate is crazy high, so we should all want to enhance the individuals in the prison system. Giving them a formal education is a fantastic start. Not only will this help them when they get out, but it’s something to keep them busy while in prison. It gives them something to hold onto and look forward to the future. These work and education systems need to be implemented throughout every prison, and we can then see the recidivism rate decrease and overall help society.

  4. Sydney Hanick says:

    After watching the videos and reading the article, I think it’s obvious that we need to incorporate more educational oppourtunities in the prisons. Obviously theres a few negatives to it, like who would pay for the education, and would someone want to get an education so bad, that they’d be willing to go to prison for a cheaper/free education. Probably not, but it comes to mind. I think inmates being able to obtain an education causes nothing but positivity. Education only builds one up, of course after having achieved something. This will help them in prison, to help build confidence, and I think respect for themselves and possibly others. It will keep them from being bored, and give them something productive to do, which gives them a feeling of worth. Lastly, when they get out of prison, they will have something to say for their name. Someone’s mom or dad didn’t just go to prison to sit and rot there for 8 years. He/she went there to serve their time, but while they were there they grew remarkably as a person through education and they may be able to provide for their families a lot easier now.

  5. Brandon Layber says:

    Ironwood is noted as a “Beacon of hope for 18-year-olds sentenced to adult prison for the first time”. Ironwood is creating this hope through college programs mentored by life-sentenced inmates that have learned and regretted their mistakes. Personally I am all for prisons that place focus around education. With a majority of prisons in the United States being minimum security, it is important that the hundreds of thousands of inmates released every year can smoothly reintegrate into a working community. With education, inmates are rehabilitated and more disciplined on societies standard of how to earn money aswell as buildings an individuals cognitive skills. Cited within the article, the educational focus Ironwood created within its prison culture lead to lower recidivism rates, less violence, and less negativity. Allowing inmates access to education can only benefit them, and benefits employers aswell as the community the individual comes back to.

  6. Tim Dies says:

    I think that the Ironwood State Penitentiary is a good example of what all prisons should be striving to be like. The way that this prison is able to rehabilitate inmates and provide college educations is incredible and is something that I wish was more common. The more that we can educate the people in our prisons the better our society will be. Prisoners coming out of our prisons educated will reduce these prisoners rate of recidivism which will help reduce the number of people in prisons which will lower the cost of running prisons. I can only see this as being a good thing economically and morally. It is our job to make sure that prisoners are taken care of while they are in prison and what is the point of sending someone to prison if we are not going to try and make them better. The Ironwood State Penitentiary is a model for what all prisons should be like today and I hope more will follow in its footsteps.

  7. Trenisha Battiste says:

    I think that yeah we do need to make a more smooth transition from prison to the outside world. If they don’t get the basic learning skill then when they leave jail, they won’t be able to adjust. I think that more now, we are trying to help felons out with their situation better and that they will think twice before going out again. The more that we help them out the less likely they will end up in the prison system again. By giving the inmates a sense of knowing that they can do well will even make other people start feeling good about themselves. It’s our job to welcome them back into the neighborhoods with love and that they do still have a home. You just have to teach them not to be so dangerous next time .

  8. Seth Daellenbach says:

    I do believe that more and more prisons and jails are starting follow in line in what Ironwood state is attempting to do and I am all for it. I really enjoyed how passionate Douglas Wood was about this topic and how he is getting the word out there, that programs like these can change peoples lives for the best. This has helped each inmate get better because instead of them going back into the criminal field to earn their money, they earn their money by becoming a productive member of society. I think 100% of prisons and jails should adopt programs like this because in the long run it will pay off.

  9. tiarra says:

    I think that this institution is a good example of rehabilitation. I believe that majority or all prisons should be like this one. Education is very essential and i think that inmates deserves the ability or chance to get a great education while incarcerated so when they are released they are able to get a good paying job or further their education. I like the fact that their are these ted talks to inform people about these things that are taking place in some prisons maybe this will help other prisons think about these things or try to incorporate it into their prison. This really is away to reduce the recidivism rate, individuals wouldn’t have the need to commit criminal acts. They would have a much more purpose on the outside and become a respectable citizen within society, If we do not see these programs being implemented within prisons i think prisons do make individuals worse, they become more angry and violent then when they came in, Especially for the non-violent criminals who are in prison.

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