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Louisiana Official: Reopen Shuttered Prison As Inmate Charter School

prison barsGetty Images/Justin Sullivan

One politician wants to improve education for prisoners and save taxpayer money. Closing the Phelps Correctional Center in Calcasieu Parish in 2012 was supposed to save the state $2.6 million a year.

But State Treasurer John Kennedy says taxpayers are not getting any value from an empty prison and he has an idea to change that.

“Re-open Phelps and put a charter school in it for inmates…so they can get their G.E.D. They can learn a vocation like welding or mechanics, and they also get values training, Kennedy said. “They learn how to work for living and how to follow rules.”

Kennedy said he wants to reopen Phelps as a charter school for inmates, which would bring jobs to the DeQuincy area. Kennedy notes a 2013 Rand Corporation study of 58 prison education programs which says every $1 spent on prison education saves $4 in prison costs.

Kennedy says educating inmates increases the odds of them finding work after they are released instead of going back to crime. He says it’s been done in other states with good results.

“So a lot of the inmates that are getting out are able to find a job and don’t commit any crimes and don’t come back,” Kennedy said, and it’s worked in San Francisco, it’s worked in Georgia, it’s worked in Texas and it can work in Louisiana.”

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