For Immediate Release: March 3, 2003
Bill To Create Prison Reading Program Heads To House
State Senator Daisy Lawler says a bill aimed at teaching inmates to read is headed for the House of Representatives. That's after Senate Bill 575 cleared the full Senate last week. Senator Lawler said the program could give inmates the skills they need to stay out of prison once their time is served.
"Study after study shows us the same thing; there's a link between crime and illiteracy. Here in Oklahoma, 40 percent of all inmates read at or below the 8th grade level. The research says if a person can't read, they're much more likely to wind up either on welfare or in prison," explained Lawler.
SB 575 would give the State Department of Corrections authorization to create a pilot program to teach reading through phonetics. Other pilot programs could be added at additional DOC facilities. Senator Lawler said the project would have almost no revenue impact.
"Saxon Publishing has agreed to donate the materials we would need for this pilot program, so the cost would be negligible. But in the long run, we could save the state millions of dollars. The same studies that show a direct connection between illiteracy and crime show when literacy increases crime goes down. I believe we can reduce recidivism rates by teaching these inmates to read," said Senator Lawler.
The next stop for SB 575 will be consideration at the committee level in the House of Representatives.
"I realize the members will be scrutinizing all proposals for new programs, especially at a time when we are looking at making very dramatic budget cuts. But there is almost zero cost for the state because the materials would be donated. Ultimately, it could save the state literally millions of dollars by reducing recidivism and helping those inmates become productive members of society," said Lawler.
For more information, contact: