Last word: Rehabilitation

Doug Shook, who taught CSE 131 through the Prison Education Project, believes that we all benefit from helping those who need it most

• Winter 2022 issue
Doug Shook

def. the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness

It is hard for me to imagine a situation that would end up with me going to prison. Yet there I was, walking through the airlock onto the prison grounds, surrounded by people who were sentenced to spend precious moments of their lives, or perhaps even their entire lives, behind these walls.

Some of them would be able to leave once their sentences were served, but what then? Some of my students had not used a computer much, if at all, since the 1990s. They knew about the internet but were not allowed to be on it. What would life be like for them once they were released? Would they have the skills to get a job to support themselves? How were they supposed to prepare when they had very few resources available to them inside the prison?

Statistics show that half or more of all prisoners will be reincarcerated within three years of release, in large part due to their unpreparedness to reenter society. 

We cannot eliminate this recidivism without helping these people through rehabilitation. We must provide tools to all those who wish to better themselves, and I can think of no better tool for bettering oneself than education. That is why the work of the Prison Education Program is so important. When we help those in our society who need it most, we all benefit.

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