I want to talk a little about my educational experience right now and its impact on why you should support my release.
Let me give you a little background on college in Michigan prisons. In the 80s anyone in prison could get a degree and do it on a grant. I think it was a Pell grant but I am not sure.
When I came to prison in the mid-90s this practice had stopped and up until 2012 the only way a prison could take college was to pay for correspondence class. In 2012 Jackson College made a deal to come into the Cotton Facility and see if prisoners would pay for college. They did, then 18 months later Obama signed legislation (the second chance grant)that allowed prisoners with between 2 -5 years left on their sentence to be eligible for the Pell Grant. This greatly expanded Jackson College’s ability to offer classes. A few other colleges got into the prisoner education game as well.
This has been an amazing blessing for many men who are now taking college classes and receiving degrees before they are paroled. Even though I am not eligible for the Pell Grant because I am a lifer, it is a great blessing to me. In fact, I do think I value it more than the guys who go for free because it is not free. I really value the experience and the opportunity to improve myself.
Yet, there is another factor that you should not be oblivious to when you are deciding if you are going to support me. That is the statistically proven fact that Higher Education is one of the short list things that has a great impact on lowering the chances an inmate will re-offend. The statistics prove education has a direct effect on recidivism.
Let me give you some stats, per prisoneducation.com (this at the national level) “offenders who have completed some high school classes have around a 55% recidivism rate. Those inmates who have completed some kind of vocation training cuts the recidivism rate down to 30%. Yet, an associates degree cuts the rate all the way down to 13.7%.”
I have 2 Vocational Trades, Horticulture, and Business Education Technology. Plus, I will have my Associates in Business by Spring 2020 at the latest. I am taking 11 credits this semester which will put me at 53 credits, but a few of my classes are not in my degree path so I have a few extra classes to cover over the next 2 semesters.
That means that in 1 year I will drop from the rate of 30% to 13.7% of reoffending by the national numbers. Yet, there is another statistic you should know. What is the recidivism rate for homicide offenders in Michigan? According to CAPPS (Citizens Alliance on Prison Spending)
“At 7% of homicide offenders have the lowest rate of return for a new crime of any group. At 5% they have the lowest rate for returning for the same type of crime. That means people who servee time for murder or manslaughter were almost never convicted of killing again.”
CAPPS has another interesting thing to say based on their studies “Time served does not relate to success on release”. This means that even if I spent 25 more years in prison it would do nothing to effect if I would or would not be successful upon my release. Yet, that college degree does.
Now on another note, the current Michigan recidivism rate is actually far lower than the national average according to the site:
“Michigans recidivism rate, which measures the percentage of offenders who return to prison within 3 years, has dropped to 29.8%. This places Michigan among the top 10 states in the nation with the lowest recidivism rates.”.
This is based on the classes and services Michigans re-entry and employment readiness departments offer to prepare and assist returning prisoners to be successful. So, guess where I work as a tutor–in the Employment Readiness class. Guess what I have from working their a certification in Employment Readiness. So, not only did I figure out what improves my chances of success, but I made sure I got a job in the one class that gives inmates skills to return to society and unlike other lifers I am taking a full schedule of classes every semester so that I can have my degree completed in a few more semesters.
So, here is how the statistics shake out, my base rate is 7%, based on my crime, NOT 29.8%, doing the math my vocational training drops me to a 3.73% chance of re-offending, the degree drops that number to only a 1.75% chance that I will ever commit another crime again. That means there is a less than 2% chance I will mess up and a less than 1% chance I will ever be involved in a homicide.
Personally, I can tell you that due to my growth, education and the wonderful support system I have the real percentage of me returning for any reason is 0.0%.
Yet, you may say that I can’t assure you of that, only a Criminal Psychologist could know what’s really going on in my head. Ok, I’ll even rise to that occasion, in 2010 I was given a full battery of psychological evaluations by Michigans leading Forensic Psychologist Dr. Steven Miller (LINK to evaluation here), who said some things, that at the time even, surprised me. Understand that his evaluation was before college and much of my education. Here are a few of his quotes:
“He (Josh) has matured considerably in consequence of his prison experiences and with regard to a deepening of his understanding and insight into the personality factors, motivations, behaviors, and bad habits underlying his offense behavior.”
—-Dr. Steven Miller Ph.D., Parole Risk Assesment 06-07-2010