Educations Role in the Department of Corrections – Part 2

I agree with John Wentzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, that investing in a community re-entry program is important, but the question is what kind? Do we need to develop more work skills and certification programs that will enable those coming out of prison to obtain a job? Many do obtain jobs but obviously the numbers demonstrate they don’t keep those jobs when life happens and they end up back in prison.

Think about this; How many of us thrive in a negative work environment? We’re educated, have a job, have a future yet it is easy to be negative in a negative work place. What is worse than a negative work place, or negative home environment? Our own negative mind. How many of you right now, while I have been reading this have been thinking of something else?

  • What are the kids doing?
  • Did I turn the iron off?
  • What do I need to finish or do instead of reading this blog post?

We talk to ourselves more than others talk to us. We create our own environment in our mind, and if that mind is negative so is our world. Or what if that person leaving prison sees themselves as a “Marked Man or Marked Woman”? Believing the world’s against them, or that their past determines their future.

I tell people all the time I don’t care if you just got out of Prison or Princeton – your future is how you view it

Negative Actions tend to produce Negative Results, just as Positive Actions tend to produce Positive Results… but not always, because life happens to all of us. So would you agree that it is important, no vital that we help these individuals create a Strong Positive Mindset and then the skills and direction to apply this attitude?

Then what skill sets do they need? Because even when we are positive things don’t always go as planned. The same skills you and I need to succeed in life. We all have the same needs and face the similar everyday obstacles and few of them have to do with a work skills, rather skills in areas of life that even people successful in the work world struggle with. In prison inmates have to be tough but are they mentally fit to fight the battles of life?

Consider these;

  • Purpose – how many adults have made this statement: I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up
  • Character – how important is character in living your purpose?
  • Attitude – it determines how we deal with daily obstacles and failures as well as our successes
  • Programming the Elephant – the ability to be a visionary in our lives
  • Game Planning & Doing – what is the strategy to accomplish our purpose?
  • Keeping Score – how are we doing in the timeline of accomplishing our goals or purpose?
  • Friendship – do the friends we have add value or detour us from accomplishing what is important?
  • Financial Management – looking at our society it is a skill many need to develop
  • Leadership Resolution – can we resolve to lead when we need to?
  • Conflict Resolution – conflict happens but how do we deal with it?
  • Systems Thinking – there is a system to everything if we just learn to think it through
  • Adversity Quotient – how do we deal with adversities WHEN they occur?
  • Legacy – what legacy do we want to leave?

I think we could agree these are powerful items to consider, but few of us give them either any serious thought or are not pro-active to live on purpose with a plan to make that purpose a reality. I believe the same could be said for our prison population. Why not look at education as far more than math, tech, welding, or earning a GED, but rather educating in areas of life that are necessary no matter what technical skill or degree a person possesses.

I suggest we look holistically at equipping individuals with the skills they need to succeed. To increase their rate of job retention and life retention by helping them figure out why they are leaving prison and for what purpose? Then give them the skills to deal with the obstacles that they will face including their and our biggest obstacle, self-mastery. The Mental Fitness Challenge might be the challenge they need to take, to fight the inside fight, so they don’t need to fight the outside, and end up back on the inside.