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Alliance for the Advancement of Education in Juvenile Justice and Adult Corrections

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Education in prison reduces crime: Florida State to lead national push

The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice will help to lead the newly formed "Alliance for the Advancement of Education in Juvenile Justice and Adult Corrections," a national coalition of correctional and educational professionals promoting proven education programs for incarcerated juvenile and adult offenders.

Tom Blomberg

"Despite the current recession and the threat of cuts or worse to many public programs, our nation literally cannot afford to see the Alliance mission fail," said Florida State Professor Tom Blomberg, dean of the college.

"Today, it is estimated that crime costs U.S. taxpayers more than a trillion dollars a year, and our use of incarceration to combat crime has never been higher, with more than one in every 100 Americans behind bars, yet recidivism (repeat offending) now occurs at the alarming rate of 70 percent or more," he said. "Clearly, we need consistent, common-sense correctional policies driven and informed by scholarly research and empirical data, and among those practices proven to work, education during incarceration is one of the best."

Blomberg called education achievement the cornerstone of success not only for the general population but among the correctional population as well.

"Research data show that correctional education and associated academic achievement provide a positive turning point for incarcerated offenders in their post-release lives," he said. "They are more likely to gain employment and, therefore, less likely to re-offend. As a result, we save both tangible taxpayer dollars and the numerous intangible pain and suffering costs associated with criminal victimization."

As leaders of the Alliance, criminologists at Florida State will guide and coordinate the group's efforts in cooperation with the Correctional Education Association (www.ceanational.org) and other national and state organizations. Together the participants will provide leadership and research and develop legislative advocacy. In addition, Florida State researchers will collect data from all 50 states to establish a National Data Clearinghouse for juvenile justice and adult correctional education.

The hoped-for result: sound public policy that truly takes a bite out of crime by reducing recidivism and the nation's expensive and ineffective reliance upon incarceration.

For more information on Florida State University's distinguished College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, visit the Web site at www.criminology.fsu.edu. To learn more about the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research, a branch of the college, go to www.criminologycenter.fsu.edu.

By Libby Fairhurst