California convicts won’t be able to learn a job skill in prison, says a Los Angeles Times editorial. Instead, they’ll learn to feel good about themselves.
In a policy shift so irrational it could only have been designed by the state prison guards union, 300 vocational education classrooms in state prisons were shuttered at the beginning of the year. This might be understandable if it were a cost-cutting move, but the state is saving little or nothing by closing the courses. The instructors who formerly provided inmates a chance to succeed in the outside world are now conducting self-esteem “modules” instead. These use workbooks hammering the sort of feel-good lessons that some prison experts believe increase, not decrease, recidivism (one can imagine the resulting thought process of an inmate — “I’m gonna be the best darned crook I can be!”).
The self-esteem lessons came out of talks between prison officials and the guards union last year. Cynics say its doomed-to-failure approach was intentional — that it was crafted in consultation with guards who either didn’t believe prisoners could be rehabilitated or who didn’t want something that might diminish their job prospects by lowering recidivism.
Via Number 2 Pencil.