“Having a second chance makes you want to work even harder.” — Tia Mowry
Another possible benefit of pursuing education in prison is sometimes referred to as diminution credits, conduct credits or commitment credits. It would help if you educated yourself and your partner on what the educational pursuit will do to decrease the incarcerated individual’s term of commitment. In less fancy words, will school or certificates earned shave time off the sentence and make it lighter?
What Do We Know?
Education programs often can lead to time off on the incarcerated person’s sentence. In the Federal System, good time can add up to a total of 54 days per year if the incarcerated individual has earned or has made satisfactory progress toward achieving a GED or high school diploma while maintaining good behavior. The state system differs with each state but is usually around 60 days per year for good behavior and extra credits above that, often another 10 days a month for an approved educational pursuit.
Every state is different, so you have to research to know exactly what your state offers, but when you serve time together, it is a wonderful treat when you point out something your partner doesn’t expect you to know. It is also good to advocate for them because sometimes you need to be the one that asks for something or points out that it exists.
How Can You Research to Find out What is Offered?
Thank goodness for the internet. Search engines like Google make it easy to find. You will want to do a search using the terms education credits, a specific state, and the word education.
Here is an example:
Type Inmate credits for education in California in Google. The first search return is Proposition 57. Effective May 1, 2019, inmates can earn 180-days of credits for high school or high school equivalency, which will put them at the same credit-earning rate higher education degrees and the OMCP. This change will be awarded retroactively to August 1, 2017.
Okay, time to push the pen, make some calls and have your partner do the same. You both can write commitment, case managers, a warden’s office, headquarters, and ask specifically if they qualify for this credit. Will they qualify for this credit?
What is most important is that you are finding out ahead of time. You will know precisely what is at stake because you have done the work before talking to your partner. We often don’t know what is at stake, and we get caught blindsided in life. In prison, a blindside is more challenging, and you two have been through enough. Save the correspondence or written response that you receive.
Let’s look at another example:
Type into Google: What education credits can a federal inmate in California receive?
You will quickly see the second chance act, a key piece of legislation in the Federal system. Here is a one-page fact sheet about the credits they offer. There are many opportunities for incarcerated students.
Again you want to take the information you have found, and the two of you can then verify that this is something that will apply to their sentence. You will also find many articles about education credits. We have included some for you to peruse at the end of this article.
The same research should be done regarding treatment programs and certificates, work programs, or other productive activities. Many states are now introducing college, and current legislation is reopening opportunities through pell grants.
We know those who participate in correctional education programs are less likely to recidivate than those who do not but don’t forget, education can also get your loved one out sooner.
Articles that demonstrate types of education credits available: