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41 J.L. & Educ. 723 (2012)
Teaching Literacy in Order to Turn the Page on Recidivisim

handle is hein.journals/jle41 and id is 731 raw text is: Teaching Literacy in Order to Turn the Page on
Recidivism
I. THE PROBLEM
Recidivism is not the full half of the glass. As defined by Black's Law
Dictionary, recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to relapse
into a habit of criminal activity or behavior.' However unlikely it is that
any criminal enjoys being punished repeatedly for a string of offenses,
the ugly truth is that prisoners are more likely to reenter the system than
not.' Statistics show that an alarming amount of criminals repeat their
bad behavior after an initial crime? In a study based on a large group of
prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% of those prisoners were arrested for
another crime within three years of release.
Often recidivism occurs with an offender who was first convicted as a
juvenile. Many studies have shown that one who commits an offense as
a juvenile is more likely to commit another offense as an adult.5 This
raises the question: what can be done after a juvenile commits his or her
first offense to prevent that juvenile from committing another crime later
in life? Although there is no one-word solution to this complex problem,
there is one intriguing prospect: teaching that juvenile to read.
Illiteracy and crime go hand in hand. It is startling to learn that 85%
of all juveniles who come into contact with the juvenile justice system
are functionally illiterate.6 The Department of Justice has reported that
the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime
is welded to reading failure.' Not coincidentally, over 70% of inmates
in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.8
Furthermore, records collected from penal institutions indicate that
1. Black's Law Dictionary (Brian A. Garner ed., 9th ed., West 2009).
2. U.S. Department of Justice, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994,
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/rpr94.pdf (accessed November 23, 2011).
3. Id.
4. Id.
5. Legislative Analyst's Office, Juvenile Crime-Outlook for California Part III,
http://www.lao.ca.gov/1995/050195-juvscrime/kkpart3.aspx (accessed December 7, 2011).
6. Begin To Read, Literacy Statistics, http://www.begintoread.com/research/
literacystatistics.html (accessed November 23, 2011).
7.Id.
8.Id.

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