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How can cybersecurity skills-building revitalize vocational and prison education?

As of June 2022, conservative estimates gauge the global prison population at over 10.35 MILLION people. From petty criminals and low-level delinquents to murders and everything in between, the international criminal justice system manages and is financially responsible for the health, welfare, and basic needs of everyone who walks through their doors.

While in the past the prime focus of these institutions was to instill punishment and acknowledgment of their moral ills, increasingly corrections officials are turning to new avenues to impact the trajectory of their inmates.

As you might expect, there's no such thing as a free lunch (that is unless you're on the other side of the bars) so how will corrections officials provide a new path to prevent recidivism?

Cybersecurity training just might be the key to breaking the cycle of reoffending.

Who is impacted?

To many, prisons today appear to focus more on punishment rather than skills building. Between managing the massive populations, decaying infrastructure, and outdated mindsets, corrections facilities and officials often lack the essential support and educational opportunities to ensure their inmates achieve. As a direct result of these structural limitations, many prisoners fail to transcend their previous transgressions and reoffend.

To put the numbers into context. On average, the United States dept of corrections releases greater than 7 million people from jail and more than 600,000 people from prison annually. However, within 3 years of their release, 66% are rearrested and more than 50% are incarcerated again. Globally, re-arrest rates were between 26% and 60%, reconviction rates ranged from 20% to 63%, and reimprisonment rates varied from 14 to 45%.

Is cybersecurity education the solution?

Unable to hide from the sheer scale of global prison populations, their ballooning costs, and fading prospects of changing the hearts and minds of prisoners a crossroad has been reached.

On one side of the equation are the dated and ineffective educational programs proven to accept high recidivism without batting an eye.

On the other sits innovative vocational programs, skills-based training, and computer-focused courses aimed to revitalize the potential of prisoners about to regain their freedom.

In practice, the formula has been proven time and time again. The ability to succeed outside of prison is dependent on skills building, support structure, vocational education and training, and in the end the prospects of an honest livelihood.

While some elements are obviously out of the purview of the criminal justice system, the ability to provide transferable certifications, technical skills, and technological literacy to the inmate population can often be the chief factor impacting recidivism.

From the Italian system enabling its prisons to pursue Cisco Networking certifications to the rise of NICCS’s Second chance National Cybersecurity University, cybersecurity training is increasingly being turned to as a means to empower prisoners to build careers outside of crime.

Case Study: National Cybersecurity University Second Chance-Prison Reform

Currently, the National Cyber Security University is the only organization globally solely focused on educating rehabilitated inmates in the field of IT/cyber security. NCSU’s core mission views cybersecurity as a way to empower prisoners for IT opportunities by supplying the tools and knowledge that will enable them gainful employment and an improved sense of self-worth.

NCSU is attempting to fill the void in practical technical education by providing a broad spectrum of both programs and certifications all centered around immediately transferable training and skills.

By catering to a course load that integrates psychosocial and tactical technical skills, the second chance program provides the foundation for entry-level placement in any cybersecurity position.

Currently, the second chances program offers classes and certifications in:

  • Changing Your Mind Set

  • Introductions to Victimology

  • Discovering Computers [Certificate Of Completion in Computer Knowledge]

  • Microsoft Office [Certificate Of Completion In Basic Understanding Of Microsoft Office]

  • How To Build A Website

  • How To Make A Lucrative Career In Cyber Security

  • CompTIA A+ Certification Course Or CompTIA Network+

  • Certified Cyber Crime Consultant

  • Certified Web Intelligence Analyst

By forming a course structure that seamlessly blends reintegration skills with technical acumen, NCSU is attempting to change the narrative of re-offending.

Early results and future prospects

Technology education and transferable skills training not only motivate returning citizens to reenter the workforce but break down the barriers which often act as a glass ceiling in their collective prospects of reintegration.

The RAND corporation makes the terms more clearly. According to Rand “the odds of recidivating are 43 percent lower for people who participate in educational programming than for those who do not. That same study found that participating in vocational training decreased the likelihood of recidivism by 36 percent.”

In order to break the cycle of recidivism and transform the prospects of returning citizens from anticipated future prisons to effective and appreciated members of the workforce, more technology education programs are crucial in prisons.

Moreso, by investing in cybersecurity training and certifications for inmates, the criminal justice system has the opportunity to transcend from an institution holding its population back, to one empowering it for the future.

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