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In this new brief by Alexa Garza, EdTrust-Texas policy Analyst, and The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison they look at Higher Education in Prison (HEP) in Texas as it relates to programs provided inside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

By providing access to education and vocational training, HEP in Texas not only offers individuals the opportunity to secure stable employment upon release, but also contributes to reducing recidivism rates and creating safer communities. It is essential, the brief outlines, for these HEP programs to be student-centered, focusing on the unique needs and goals of the individuals involved. Additionally, state initiatives like Talent Strong Texas and TDCJ’s 2030 Plan underscore the importance of collaboration and support for HEP programs, highlighting the potential positive impact on both incarcerated individuals and the broader community.

By the numbers:

As of August 31, 2023, the TDCJ reported 45,048 individuals released for fiscal year 2023.

The majority of these individuals return to local communities where they must be prepared for the challenges of the 21st-century workforce — education is the key to this transition. By 2030, 62% of all jobs in the state will require a postsecondary credential.

Texans will need to earn a credential beyond a high school diploma to meaningfully participate in our state’s economy and the stakes are even higher for formerly incarcerated persons. Being able to find self-sustaining employment can mean the difference between successfully transitioning back into their community or returning to prison.

Post-secondary education typically refers to any education pursued after completing high school or obtaining a GED. While many individuals choose to pursue traditional college degrees, post-secondary education also includes non-degree courses. These courses can range from vocational training programs to certificate programs to professional development workshops.

Download the Brief

Blog Post: Toward Comprehensive Higher Education in Texas Prisons