Recidivism and Career Development
One of the main problems contributing to the recidivism of ex-offenders is that few of them have had enough assistance in learning how to develop a career direction that will help them become committed to a free, economically sustaining life style.
Most human beings have strengths that can be built upon, but many need help in learning how what they already know can help them begin to make good career choices.
Many ex-offenders on probation or parole believe that they have no real options and are ignorant about the process of making a good career choice. They are often unable to describe their own interests, abilities, values, personality characteristics, and are unaware of the wide range of potential occupations they could qualify for.
As such, they are ill-equipped to choose, persist, and prepare for a career which could help to structure their post-prison release period. Thus they are prone to repeat the patterns of behavior which landed them in prison.
The Adkins Program Helps to Reduce Recidivism
The majority of clients of the criminal justice system who take the Adkins Program learn a great deal about themselves and the world of work. They first learn what they already know but are not using. They mine their past work, family, educational and criminal experiences for knowledge about their interests, abilities, values and personality characteristics, their strengths and their weaknesses.
They use this new awareness about themselves to explore in depth a range of occupations from different fields and levels from the 40,000 different occupations available in this country. They make reasonable choices. The choices motivate them to apply themselves to improve their literacy skills and academic qualifications.
Through this process they learn to value themselves. They begin to have hope. They have the basis for sound planning of what they will do when they get out. Clear occupational and educational goals provide the structure they need to help them develop alternatives to falling back into the negative patterns they've always known and been comfortable with.
Structured group discussions, hundreds of carefully designed learning experiences, a focus on personal choice and responsibility, a process that fosters exploration and discovery---all these work well in correctional settings and other environments that provide services to clients of the criminal justice system.
In a Texas prison 73 young male first offenders, age 17-21, completed the Adkins Career Development Program. In addition to increases in job skills, several other important changes were found:
- disciplinary records of inmates improved, 51% had fewer disciplinary actions against them
- educational achievement increased for all participants
- 15% obtained their GED
- 7% enrolled in college
- 27% enrolled in vocational training programs
- improved self-confidence was rated as one of the most important outcomes by participants
Shandera: Evaluation of the Adkins Life Skills Program on the Ferguson Unit, Texas Department of Corrections
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