February 6, 2018
Davis, Lois, et al. “How Effective is Correctional Education?” RAND Corporation, RAND Corporation, 2013, http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9728/index1.html. Accessed 18 Feb. 2018.
Davis and four other associates from RAND corporation, in their peer-reviewed research brief on Correctional Education, argued the thesis that inmate education is effective. Before the main body of their argument, Davis and her associates let their readers know that this research was funded and supported by the United States Bureau of Justice. This adds considerably to the credibility of the article as it was first approved by a well-known organization.
This article addresses recidivism, specifically one solution to recidivism; correctional education programs. Davis adds backing to her argument by asking three questions. These questions are; (1) “how effective is correctional education at reducing recidivism”, (2) “is correctional education cost-effective”, and (3) “what are the implications going forward?” (Davis, Lois, et al) The first of these questions was covered by Newton, however, this source does not refute any claims made by Newton. Davis concludes that the answer to question one is a resounding yes. After this, she proves there is indeed a recidivism problem in the United States. Davis answers the second question by pointing out that educating convicts is very cost effective. Given the data provided by Davis, it would be more cost effective to educate inmates then pay for them to recidivate later. The third question is first addressed by summarizing Davis’s findings. After this, Davis points out while education is an extremely useful means to help inmates, it still is a sort of “black box” (Davis, Lois, et al). For this to be realistic in Congress, there are many variables to consider. These variables include various educational program types and which of them is the best and most cost-effective. Davis points out that there is currently too much ambiguity. Newton’s article addressed this ambiguity as it provides some 800 programs, all aimed at solving this black box.
As was mentioned in the beginning, the source is credible, and RAND is a trustworthy corporation. I plan to utilize this source in many ways. In addition to the usefulness of correctional education programs, I plan to use their answer to the second question. This will provide another claim and support to my thesis. This source also helps to address and ease some fears people other than my target audience might have, fears mentioned in CBS News coverage of Democratic Debate.
News, CBS. “Democratic debate transcript: Clinton, Sanders, OMalley in New Hampshire.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 20 Dec. 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/democratic-debate-transcript-clinton-sanders-omalley-in-new-hampshire/. Accessed 18 Feb. 2018.
CBS News, in a transcript of the third democratic debate on December 20, 2015, discussed the solutions to different issues on which Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would fix if elected. The actual source is the complete transcript of a two-hour program in which many problems were addressed. This source was used for the brief section on the US prison systems. This specific problem had a thesis claiming that large amounts of money are being spent in US correctional facilities. Upon being asked what he thought about American Law Enforcement, Senator Bernie Sanders gave a current statistic regarding governmental spending on inmates. This particular section of the debate addresses a common worry that there is simply too much money going into corrections (CBS News).
The source itself is as credible as Bernie Sanders’ statistics are, as the source is a direct copy of what he said. Assuming the stats are correct, I would like to use this to address controversial topics in my own thesis. By using Davis’ article, I would use this source to justify spending money on education. After all, if statistics show that a large sum of money is already going to corrections, why would one justify even more money? I plan to address this problem and give a solution, the solution being correctional education reduces costs.
Newton, Danielle, et al. “The Impact of Vocational Education and Training Programs on Recidivism: A Systematic Review of Current Experimental Evidence.” Current Sociology, vol. 66, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 187-207. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0306624X16645083. Accessed 6 Feb. 2018.
Danielle Newton and five other members of various Australian universities, writing their peer reviewed article for the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, maintains the thesis that, “The aim of this study… is to establish just how much progress has been made in documenting the impact of post-release vocational training and employment programming on subsequent offending” (Newton, Danielle, et al). With the objective to establish a correlation of correctional programs and lowing recidivism rates, 12 out of 778 articles were proven credible and without selection biases. This study is a review of each one the program instituted, and its effect on the recidivism rate of prisoners.
To paraphrase, Newton and her other associates effectively summarized 40 years of research while establishing their own credibility, using six guidelines. The first point ensured the participants were “ex-offenders” who, before the study, were under similar circumstances to the average prisoner. The second criteria narrowed the target audience and eliminated possible confounding factors or the elimination of various biases, by ensuring the study group was all the same age labeled “adult”. The third criteria established a connection to the overall thesis of the researchers. Each member had to be in connection to an inmate education program. This ensured each group was to compare its results to an appropriate control group. The second to last criteria eliminated selection bias as inmates were not coerced into various programs. The final criteria eliminated more confounding factors as the study was “randomized”.
These six criteria add to the sources overall credibility as each paid attention to the reduction of possible biases. Each program was selected and accepted or declined based on a two-person analysis of these six criteria (Newton, Danielle, et al). This source will serve as major background information regarding the correlation between programs and education of inmates and the reduction of recidivism. This source also takes the problem in a new direction as it talks exclusively about what it means to have a job and the self-esteem building opportunities it would provide. I plan to use both aspects of this article as proof that recidivism can be reduced by the introduction of various programs. Because this study goes over 40 years of research to the topic, it is a great way to show my audience various solutions to the problem and their varying degrees of success. Just as it was mentioned by Piccirillo, writing under the Utah State Department of Corrections, there is indeed hope as she experienced.
Nichols, Chris. “Back behind bars: Recidivism in Utah.” Signpost, Weber State University, 18 Apr. 2017, signpost.mywebermedia.com/2017/04/19/back-behind-bars-recidivism-in-utah-2/. Accessed 6 Feb.. 2018.
Chris Nichols, in his writing for Weber State University’s Signpost, begins his article by introducing his thesis, that education programs reduce recidivism but there are not enough opportunities within Utah’s correction system to warrant an effective change. Nichols develops upon his thesis by citing research from The Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. This research indicates that Utah is not exempt from the national recidivism crisis. Nichols addressed this when he asks the question of Utah’s correctional department, “What efforts are being made to reform convicts from hardened criminals to functional members of society?”. (Nichols) To answer his question, Nichols addresses current programs in use within Utah but goes farther by saying, “these programs as an excellent investment that is in dire need of help”. (Nichols) Lastly, Nichols further expounds upon his thesis by giving the number of Utah convicts who want to enter education programs to those who were able to. Nichols concludes his address with a warning that “Until that funding [for the programs] comes, hundreds of inmates who wish to reform will be denied the opportunity.” (Nichols)
Nichols presents a slightly subjective outlook on the problem, so I will use the more objective facets of his article as they are quite credible. This objective data will prove invaluable when addressing the actual problem within Utah. I will use this source to inform my audience that there is indeed a problem that needs fixing regarding Utah’s correctional programs. As with Piccirillo’s anecdote, there are indeed inmates seeking to reform. I plan to use a combination of Piccirillo’s anecdote as well as the correlation between education and recidivism given by Newton to back my own thesis.
Utah Department of Correction. “Kelly J. Piccirillo.” https://corrections.utah.gov/
index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=919&Item id=301. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.
Kelly J. Piccirillo, a recovering addict and previous inmate within the Utah State Prison System, was asked to report on her own story regarding her encounter with a drug rehabilitation program named HOPE. She contends the thesis that the HOPE program was difficult as was her own individual journey. All in all, Piccirillo maintains that the HOPE program was a huge success for her and in response she claimed, “My life is going so great, I have never lived life as I am today — totally drug free and loving every minute of it. I send out my deepest, deepest gratitude… to the HOPE staff”. (Utah Department of Corrections)
While this source is not scholarly, it does provide a useful anecdote to introduce and hook the audience. Piccirillo’s thesis is simply that Utah’s current programs are indeed useful. With this anecdote as an introduction, it would be beneficial to remind my audience that their programs are indeed working and that if more programs like this existed, there would be more stories like Piccirillo’s. This story adds a more personal note to the various programs introduced in Newton’s article. All in all, I want to use this anecdote to drive home the importance of these programs and to answer the “so what” question.