Getting former inmates back on track after being in prison for years has always been a big problem. Lacking marketable skills, it’s often difficult for ex-convicts to get jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. They are generally prohibited from receiving any sort of welfare benefits or student loans, so they are often left with very few options. A startling amount end up back in jail.
The goal of Edovo is to provide inmates with lifeskills, work training, and remedial academic programs that can help them to go straight when released from prison.
Evanston, Illinois-based startup Edovo is taking bold action to use of technology to give inmates a real chance at survival in the outside world. They are offering a wireless and tablet-based learning platform for inmates. This could break the chain of recidivism that plagues those trapped within the prison system.
Edovo’s Mission Statement is: “to provide meaningful access to education and self-improvement tools that can unlock the potential of every person affected by incarceration.” The company, which was named one of the most innovative organizations of 2016, is on the road to doing this with the use of tablets running their platform.
Education Can be Key to Cutting Recidivism
Forbes reported that more than 50% of former inmates return to life behind bars. However, with proper education and vocational programs, recidivism can be reduced by up to 43% within a span of just three years.
The program is already in place in three states: California, Alabama and Pennsylvania. It also has been expanded to include recently released inmates. There are now more than 4,000 users inside jails. Edovo founder Brian Hill wants to expand the program even further. He says that they have always planned to “improve the criminal justice system,” both in jail and after release.
The tablets are going to be used for educational programming, but also contain other limited functionalities, including being used as telephones. The tablets require secure wireless networks inside the prison facilities. This connection is provided and controlled by Edovo. However, there will be no outside internet access nor any external communication, for security reasons. The tablet itself is designed to be rugged and durable with a custom casing. It also has real-time tracking and allows administrators to control both content and usage.
Learning Within Prison Walls
The device provides users access to curated material including Department of Labor documentaries for career training. Other content created by Edovo includes cognitive and behavior therapy, as well as courses which are preparatory to GED and other materials. There are courses for vocational training as well as academics, and programs about parenting, substance abuse and anger management. The continued use of the device within the facilities enables the inmates to access approved movies, music and magazines.
One aim of the program is to provide inmates access to technology, where they can learn and keep up with the outside world. This also helps ensure that inmates are interested in learning even as they use their free time on the tablet. In doing so, the inmates are kept occupied and engaged. It relieves the boredom which is prevalent in prisons, and that helps to reduce inmate violence.
The goal of Edovo is to provide inmates with lifeskills, work training, and remedial academic programs that can help them to go straight when released from prison. Recidivism is a huge problem in the U.S., and one of the reasons for the exploding prison population. The United States has the largest number of people behind bars.
The lack of education and job skills that led inmates to land behind bars in the first place, are not addressed during their time in prison at all. Generally, they just find themselves released with one more black mark that makes it even harder to find gainful work, a place to live, or any means to survive. If Edovo can make a dent in that, and help inmates become useful productive citizens, they will have done a good deal to improve society.
In addition, the cost of the tablets will not be passed on to taxpayers. The Alabama Department of Corrections, for example, will be making use of revenue from phone calls and commissions from the telephone contract to fund the project.
Edovo is taking bold action, it remains to be seen if this will have bold impact.