The Education Division within the Nevada Department of Corrections administers multiple correctional education programs throughout the prison system. In conjunction with local school districts, community colleges and universities the Division offers academic and vocational programs at all levels. Did you know that more than 90 percent of all inmates in Nevada will eventually return to the world outside the prison walls? Part of our mission is “to provide opportunities for offenders to successfully re-enter the community through education, training, treatment, work and spiritual development.” Since 1990, literature examining the return rates of offenders, or recidivism, has shown that educated offenders are less likely to find themselves back in prison a second time if they complete an educational program and are taught skills to successfully read and write.
Approximately 58% of Nevada’s inmates come to prison without having completed high school. It is our goal that every inmate who leaves prison has a GED or High School Diploma. In each of our major prisons, school districts teach a range of correctional education including basic literacy for inmates who test below the 8th grade level in their academics, English as a Second Language (ESL), Life Skills, GED preparation and vocational training, in addition to the traditional high school program. Upon completion of 20½ credits and passing of proficiency exams required by the State Board of Education, inmates are issued an Adult High School Diploma. GED certificates are also issued upon successful completion of all five sections of the national exam. During 2009, over 5,000 inmates were enrolled in adult education programs.
More than 78% of inmates come to prison with minimal job training. Vocational skills are taught to Nevada inmates by the school districts and colleges, prison industries, and the Nevada Division of Forestry. Inmates can learn culinary skills, construction trades, animal science, fire-fighting, auto mechanics and restoration, business and management, equipment repair, HVAC installation and repair, welding, furniture manufacturing, dry cleaning, computer skills and more. Inmates may also get prison jobs as clerks, cooks, janitors, maintenance workers, landscapers, construction crews and other such positions that provide them on-the-job training.
Incentives for Inmates
Nevada law provides incentives for offenders to earn an education while incarcerated; among these incentives is the application of educational credits toward the reduction of sentences. An offender, who earns a certificate, educational or vocational, while behind bars, may qualify to expedite his/her release date.
When combined with other rehabilitative programs, education is a powerful factor in reducing recidivism. Rigorous study gives offenders the intellectual leverage they need to revise their view of themselves and leave prison better equipped to contribute positively to their families and communities. Education has been the longest running and most successful rehabilitative program in our prison history.