First Step Act: Best Practices for Academic and Vocational Education for Offenders

U.S. Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice

First Step Act: Best Practices for Academic and Vocational Education for Offenders, a report from the National Institute of Justice, examines the best practices and outcomes in correctional settings when skill-enhancing initiatives, such as remedial academics and vocational programming, are implemented. A key component of successful re-entry for ex-offenders is the acquisition of new personal, academic, and employability skills through participation in skill-enhancing programs while still incarcerated. Best practices include participation in an ESOL program until reaching a minimum English proficiency level of eighth grade, classes to build foundational literacy skills, high school equivalency programs for inmates lacking a high school diploma, and occupational education courses to prepare inmates for reentry after release. An innovative life skills and behavioral/cognitive change program called Breaking Barriers is specifically highlighted and could serve as a model for future correctional program design. Additional findings include positive outcomes in the effort to reduce recidivism when drug and alcohol intervention programs and therapeutic communities are implemented.

Key Takeaways

Adaptability & Flexibility

Critical & Creative Thinking

Leadership & Initiative

Self-Management

Teamwork & Collaboration

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