If it is coupled with an internal individual decision by the criminal to change, but even modest efforts, like this reported by the Northeast Mississippi News, helps open up the world of learning to the illiterate.

An excerpt.

“Mississippi has the second highest incarceration rate in the nation.

“Each inmate admitted to a Mississippi detention facility is different, but state Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps says most of them have two things in common – a dependency on drugs or alcohol and an inability to read past a middle-school level.

“The average Mississippi Department of Corrections inmate reads on a sixth-grade level when admitted to a corrections facility. Half of the state’s inmates never finished high school.

“Epps said the commonly heard maxim that prison cells can be built based on a state’s literacy rates at third grade isn’t entirely true but it’s close.

“I absolutely believe that someone who is illiterate has a better chance of being an inmate – they are coming in on a sixth-grade reading, writing and arithmetic level,” he said. “We don’t see a lot coming in our system with a Bachelor of Science or arts or a master’s or Ph.D.”

“Epps said the reason people with lower literacy levels are more susceptible to criminal behavior is the lack of opportunity they have.

“There are individuals I’m aware of with degrees who are having trouble finding jobs,” he said. “If a person at the sixth-grade level doesn’t have a GED or high school diploma, their (lower) quality of life is probably going to lead to criminal activity and they’ll probably get in trouble.”

“The National Assessment of Adult Literacy publishes a study each decade comparing literacy of incarcerated adults to literacy of adults not in the prison system.

“The 2003 Literacy Behind Bars study, the latest available, found that adults living in prison had significantly lower literacy scores in prose, document and quantitative reading than adults living in households, especially when it comes to quantitative literacy.