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Prison Libraries Aid Rehabilitation

The state of America’s prison system, and its ability to rehabilitate inmates, are hotly debated political and social topics. Even educational elements, like prison libraries, which are widely viewed as having a positive impact on inmate’s lives, can come under fire when issues of budget and censorship arise. In the recent blog post 15 Amazing Effects of Prison Libraries, BestCollegesOnline.com presents the far reaching benefits of allowing prisoners access literary resources.

“Yet of all the liberties afforded to prisoners, access to a library, and the materials and classes it provides, can be one of the most useful in preparing them for life outside of prison. The majority of inmates in America‚Äôs prisons have low levels of education and some can barely read, write, or use a computer. These are all skills that are necessary to make it on the outside without returning to a life of crime, and prison libraries offer inmates the chance to learn all of these things and more,” the article states.

Among the most important benefits cited in the blog is the fact that inmates who pursue education are less likely to end up back in prison. “A study of inmates in 2003 found that participation in education programs while in prison helped reduce rates of re-arrest, re-conviction, and reincarceration by significant amounts, with only 21% of those who participated in education programs ending up back in prison versus 35% of non-participants.”

Another key advantage is elevated literacy levels. “A 2003 study on literacy behind bars found that prison inmates who used the library daily had higher average literacy when reading prose and documents than prison inmates who used the library less frequently, whether they went weekly, monthly, or never at all. While those who used the library daily had the biggest difference in language literacy levels, prison inmates who used the library at any rate had better literacy when it came to math than prison inmates who never used the library.”

Preparing prisoners for life on the outside, as well as providing materials for inmates to assist in their own legal matters and raising self esteem, are just a few reasons why libraries are invaluable to the incarcerated population in this country.

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