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Illiteracy is strong indicator of future incarceration

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posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 01:31 PM

By Nadine Wimmer

SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL and other Deseret Media Companies have launched an initiative to help Utah children read before the third grade. Few things will improve their lives, or ours, more than if we "Read Today."

"If we don't provide them with that foundation skill, we basically sentence them to a life we don't even want to think about," says Mark Willes, CEO of Deseret Media Company.

That statement is not far from the truth. KSL News went to the state prison to learn firsthand the consequences of not learning to read.

For inmate Diana Bacon, drug crimes got her hard time. But she'll tell you dropping out at the seventh grade, due to poor reading skills, is the underlying reason she's here.

"I've regretted it, regretted it my whole life," Bacon says. "I looked at all my old friends that I went to school with, and they're really gone places. You can't do anything without a high school diploma or GED."

Inmate Timothy Nielson is behind bars for felony forgery. He came to prison at a second-grade reading level.

"The thinking errors involved in what I did are tremendous. The lack of education was huge, because I wasn't able to make good choices," Nielson says.

Their stories aren't unusual. More than 70 percent of the inmates at Point of the Mountain are illiterate.

Meanwhile, the State Office of Education reports that boys who are dropouts -- often because they lack reading skills -- are 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who graduated from college.

That's not to oversimplify a cause and effect, but clearly the link between literacy and prison time is a strong one.

"I didn't have to go down the road I went down. I had options," Bacon says.

Bacon has finally learned to read through the prison's South Park Academy program. That will help keep her out of prison once she is released.

"Our recidivism rate of inmates coming back is only 14 percent, where the national average is 60 percent," says Lory Curtis, principal of South Park Academy.

She'll need those odds; since we spoke to Inmate Bacon, she's served her sentence and is working to make a fresh start.


On the other hand where this is partially true, there are many who are fine without our educational system and are those who are even better off being self educated.

As for not having your GED or high school diploma.... It's just a piece of paper verifying what you learned. I have had multiple, high paying jobs and didn't have that. As a matter of fact I lied about most of them but not a single job I have ever worked for or any of my friends actually requested to see their GED or diploma.

posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 01:55 PM
Well, that's very interesting - my immediate thoughts were regarding a few recent threads on here.

It's quite probably true, but what are the social factors that lead to illiteracy? Being born into a poor family etc?

posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 02:40 PM
I gotta speak up here because I believe strongly in education and the PARENT teaching his children to read.

This is the job of a father or brother.

It is well known that those who are in power (whoever they are at any given time or circumstance) discover some new "fact" or maybe discover some serf with new found contraption that may threaten their position of power well they will grab it forthemselves. (get rid of serf..rewrite abit of history and have a beer for job well done)

Readers are informed, some have turned the information to knowledge and others are able to apply wisdom to the knowledge...this can threaten the status quo.

Anyhow before I ramble on and on and on it does not take a reader long to discover how facts can be twisted and stretched and misquoted. That information gives the reader the knowledge of "context".

Take for example the supposed quote from Darth Vader (Dick Cheney)concerning knowing Osama Bin Laden was not involved in 911....when in fact he(Dicky Boy the Angler) is suffering from early dementia and gets his facts mixed up...and later in the Tony Snow interview it was corrected that Cheney meant to say Hussein...but whose counting.

Anyhow a reader would and will read the whole thing (transcript)once or twice and see at least part of the truth. This gives the reader information that he can turn into knowledge.

The knowledge being that not everything you read is in context or true.

This can turn into wisdom when the reader then can use the knowledge for good or evil...the knowledge of context.

If the educated reader chooses good by defending the truth well their you have it....a true leader.

If the educated reader chooses evil my twisting the truth by his newly gained knowledge of context you have....another leader. lol

But at least they are readers...George Bush read a couple of books while in office....

First was...History of Spanish Flue

Second was...History of Salt and its use in war and slavery etc....

edit for various spelling...grammer yada yada

[edit on 27-4-2010 by whiteraven]

posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 03:57 PM
It's the social environment rather than the absolute cause of being unable to read. +Seeing all their friends and older relatives in crime that keeps each other from getting a stronger hold on things. Works against the group really.

posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 03:58 PM
I'm sorry, I know the education system is bad and I have many ideas on how to get things on the right track BUT

anyone who can not teach themselves to read by the time they are 18-20 should be left in Alaska to die of exposure.

I mean seriously, you know how to speak, you know the 26 letters (everyone knows the ABC song), and you know common words (STOP on a stop sign, etc).

If you can't eventually put 2 and 2 together, there's no hope for you anyway and the choices you make will pass through the same sub-standard filter whether you can read or not.


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