By Christopher Zoukis
Reviewed by Randall Radic
On the subjects of prison, education, and rehabilitation, in his monumental Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security, author Christopher Zoukis has much to say. And he says it very well.
In today’s world, especially in the U.S., society appears more interested in simply building more prisons, filling them with prisoners, and then throwing away the key than in attempting to reduce crime and recidivism. That is, until recently. Now that many states are staring down the long dark tunnel of financial ruin, they are seeking ways to save money rather than spend it. But the big question is this: if we’re not going to spend billions on building more prisons, and even more billions housing the prisoners in the old prisons, what are we going to do?
Christopher Zoukis has an answer. He has written the guidebook of all guidebooks to reducing crime and recidivism. As already noted, the book is called Education Behind Bars. And it grew out of Zoukis’ preoccupation with finding the answer to a very simple question: “What is the best way for me to educate myself while I’m in prison?”
In the course of answering that question, Christopher Zoukis researched all the available information on correspondence courses geared toward and available to inmates. The problem was there wasn’t much information available. And what was available was outdated.
Not one to be dissuaded by mere obstacles, Zoukis began writing letters to trade schools, colleges, and universities – thousands of them. As the replies came in, he realized he had more information than anyone else on the subject. So he did what any enterprising person would do. He performed more intensive research, writing down what he learned. Before long he had a good start on the mother of all reference books regarding education behind bars.
What’s so unique about Education Behind Bars is that it not only discusses the mechanics of getting an education while in prison, but it also reveals the benefits of educating prisoners. Simply put, the best way to rehabilitate prisoners is to educate them. Not only does education restore dignity and self-esteem to prisoners, it makes them employable after release, and reduces recidivism, which is the revolving door back into prison. Some states – like California – have recidivism rates of 70% to 80%. In other words, taxpayers will be paying up to $50,000 per year per prisoner forever and ever, unless something changes.
Education Behind Bars points out what needs to change: society’s attitude toward educating prisoners.
Christopher Zoukis has put it all there in black in white. He has all the documentation, all the statistics, all the studies, all the conclusions. The data is cogent. The logic is irrefutable. The question now is will anyone listen or, like Cassandra, will Christopher Zoukis go unheeded?
Education Behind Bars is a necessary book, one that needs to be read and discussed by every reasonable, tax-paying adult in the United States.