Why Education is the Pathway Out of Prison

Why Education Is the Pathway Out of Prison

(Image: Courtesy of IDS)

He is a successful entrepreneur.

He is an educator. He’s in the tech space. But the catalyst driving the work of Turner Nashe Jr., Ph.D., is a fundamental understanding that education keeps people out of prison.

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The statistics are stark:

  • The United States prison system is a $68 billion a year industry.
  • Half of those in prison are non-violent drug offenders.
  • New York City alone spent close to $168,000 per prisoner in 2012.
  • There are 7 million Americans under correctional supervision, far more than in any other country.
  • For every $1 spent on prison education, re-incarceration costs are reduced by $5.
  • In Tennessee in 2009, only 13% of GED-eligible prisoners took advantage of GED classes.
  • The national average recidivism rate is 76.6% within five years.
  • The recidivism rate of prisoners who earn an associate degree: 13.7%
  • The recidivism rate of prisoners who earn a bachelor’s degree: 5.6%
  • The recidivism rate of prisoners who earn a master’s: 0%

Although Nashe has never been imprisoned, he understands the effect education has on reducing recidivism.

Nashe, founder and president of IDS, is a successful businessman who grew up in a community devastated by the crack cocaine epidemic of the ’70s, went back to school to basically answer the questions of why his community had suffered in that way, why his neighbors had few employment options, and why some of his friends chose drug dealing over education.

“Education can lay a path out of poverty,” he says. “It’s a long arc, but a safe one.”

In 2009, Nashe started IDS and developed the company’s proprietary digitally secure e-reader and content delivery system through which incarcerated men and women can take courses that lead to degrees. In 2014, IDS was awarded a contract in 37 of California’s prisons, allowing them to deliver educational options to the populations there.

The company was recently awarded the Outstanding IT Project Team Award in the state of California for its educational solutions in the state’s prison market.

“We have about 12,000 active users in our system,” says Nashe. “Our goal is to educate, enrich, and enhance the lives of our clients.”

IDS is also working to partner with entrepreneurship programs like the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, which reduces recidivism rates to 5%.

For more information about IDS, go to its website.