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Pilot program in San Francisco jail brings education opportunity

Whether you're 50 or 15, being convicted of a criminal offense can be a life-changing event. It can affect everything from your current life to your life down the road, causing difficulties in everything from where you are allowed to live -- if you are on the sex offender registry -- and your ability to obtain a job after your release.

But while a criminal charge can easily impact an adult's life, this impact is often more prominent with juveniles whose lives are typically halted by a conviction. Depending on the age the conviction occurs at, a juvenile could miss out on graduation from highs school. Missing this important educational milestone means that they may be unable to attend college down the road, which creates further barriers when it comes to securing better paying jobs.

But one pilot program is trying to circumvent this unwanted future by giving more than 100 inmates at a San Francisco jail access to tablet devices that can be used to further their education. Funded by the California Wellness Foundation, the $275,000 project is looking for an answer to a question that has long plagued the judicial system: if you give inmates the necessary tools to better their education, will they be less likely to reoffend after release?

Some in the state believe that the answer is yes.

If the project proves successful at the jail level, it's possible that the program could be allowed in prisons across the state. Because prison sentences are considerably longer than most jail sentences, inmates lose out on more educational opportunities and may be incredibly ill-prepared to re-enter the workforce. Providing them with tablets and access to education programs, the state would also be providing them with the opportunity to change their future and avoid recidivism after release.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Device That Could Help Keep Former Inmates Out Of Jail For Good," Lydia O'Connor, Oct. 28, 2014

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