In Texas, the correctional facilities have incorporated vocational education programs in their institutions. This started because the criminal justice institutions, practitioners, and the correctional policy makers took an interest in the transition of the prisoners from prison into the community (Dilulio, 1987). One of the factors that drove this interest was the fact that prisoners were being released from the prisons in great numbers. Early parole was also offered to the prisoners who exhibited good behavior. This, consequently, resulted in the release of numerous prisoners. Overcrowding was another factor that influenced the release of prisoners in numbers into the community.
In overcrowded prisons, offering prison services has become a hectic issue and this has forced a majority of the prison systems to release prisoners before completing their sentences. Hence, there is the need for criminal justice practitioners to intervene through the implementation of vocational education programs. Another factor that influenced the criminal justice system to intervene was the fact that the research conducted in prisons indicated an increase in the rate of recidivism and increase in the number of return inmates in prisons (Dilulio, 1987). This statistic was not only evident in the state of Texas but also in other states.
The prison systems have experienced financial hardships because the conduction of the normal activities requires a lot of money. Owing to this fact, these penitentiary systems have resolved to reduce their funds allocation. Less staff means less supervision and the elimination of some extra-curricular activities such as education and recreation programs. Normally scheduled school, vocational, even worship services are routinely cancelled due to these staff shortages.
In the execution of these cutbacks, prison systems also decided to remove certain correctional services including the vocational education programs that are expensive in the event of budget pressures. These vocational education programs are very effective in the transformation of prisoners as it enables them to lead self-sustaining lives. These programs are also in a position to offer skills that are up to date with modern technology such as wind, solar, and water purification.
[...] The penitentiaries would also have a cheap source of labor from the offenders to maintain and service the machinery that comes with the new technologies (TDCJ: annual report, 1991). Similar programs are already in place on the federal level in Texas. UNICOR, the federal prison industry, has a wind turbine unit in Big Springs, Texas that manufactures and teaches wind technology. Solar panels are assembled by UNICOR in Otisville, New York. Biomass fuel technology is being taught and manufactured in three other federal facilities. The extraction of landfill gas is being used in Allentown, Pennsylvania. All of these programs offer economic stimulus they generate immediate and useable capital. [...]
[...] But the setting up of more modern programs as part of the vocational educational programs has its drawbacks. These drawbacks occur in the sense that a majority of the prisons fall short in the implementation of the new technologies. The new technologies entail the setting up of wind, solar and water purification systems. The biggest drawback that makes the prisons fall short in the implementation is cost implication of the new technologies. Owing to this fact alone, prisons find it economically unfeasible to implement these, or any other, new technologies. [...]
[...] Doing time in the depression: Everyday life in Texas and California prisons. New York, N.Y.: New York University Press. DiIulio, J. (1987). Governing prisons: A comparative study of correctional management. New York, N.Y.: New York University Free Press. Office of the State Auditor. (1996). A report on prison unit cost comparison, Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Austin, TX. Office of the State Auditor. (1993). [...]
[...] Another policy worth implementation is the further inclusion of volunteer work, as part of the vocational education programs. Through this program, offenders are given the opportunity to give back to the community through the participation in volunteer work close to their area of service. Another policy worth implementing is the provision of secured outpatient treatment programs. Through these programs, the offenders suffering from mental illness are able to access proper treatment. This special treatment should also be extended to mentally retarded and physically handicapped offenders. [...]
[...] Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Pub. Co. Office of the State Auditor. (1991). Texas Department of Criminal Justice: annual report. Austin, TX. Schlager, M. (2013). Rethinking the Reentry Paradigm: A Blueprint for Action. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. The Division. [...]
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