Examines California’s strategy to reduce recidivism by aligning education and training programs through coordination in the justice, education, and workforce systems; and provides recommendations to strengthen state-level efforts that prioritize prevention and rehabilitation while also providing cost-savings to the correctional system.

This brief first presents the impetus for California’s investments to reduce recidivism, followed by an examination of the state’s strategies in the areas of career and technical education, postsecondary education, and federal support. It also includes an analysis of measurable successes (outcomes), ongoing improvements, and finally, recommendations for actions at different levels of government.

“Research has shown…that access to correctional education and training can significantly improve the outcomes of those returning to society. These positive outcomes are leading to increased federal and state momentum to improve postsecondary access for prisoners and lifting this issue higher on reform agendas. Nonetheless, the education and training needs of prisoners are far more complex than what can be met by traditional postsecondary education…and linking those needs to training that articulates to post-release opportunities is essential for successful reentry. Building on the theme of continuity from incarceration to reentry, [this is the first in a series of]…briefs [that] highlight the continuous improvement stories of states that are moving toward this type of alignment. This brief…focus[es] on California” (p.1).

“[U]nsustainable practices in California’s prisons culminated with a 2011 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ordering [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] CDCR to reduce its prison population by more than 40,000 inmates over the next two years. This decision spurred the state to decrease its prison population by making major investments to reduce recidivism…” (p.1).  “With an understanding of the relationship between correctional education and reduced recidivism,…[the state created a blueprint in 2012 with these goals:]

· Place at least 70 percent of the department’s target population in programs consistent with their academic and rehabilitative needs;

· Establish reentry hubs to concentrate program resources and better prepare inmates as they get closer to being released; and

· Add 159 academic teachers and 98 vocational instructors over a 2-year period” (p.2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)