Education and Vocational Training
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has long recognized the importance of education as both an opportunity for inmates to improve their knowledge and skills and as a correctional management tool that encourages inmates to use their time in a constructive manner.
Each Federal prison has its own education department that provides education and recreational activities to Federal inmates.
While BOP inmates have access to a variety of educational programs, literacy education receives the highest priority. With few exceptions, an inmate who does not have a GED credential must participate in a literacy program for a minimum of 240 instructional hours or until he or she earns a GED credential.
The English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) program enables inmates with limited English proficiency to improve their English language skills. Due to legislation passed in 1990, non-English proficient inmates must participate in an ESL program until they pass competency skills tests at the eighth grade level.
The BOP provides a wide range of occupational training programs, which give inmates the opportunity to obtain marketable skills. Course offerings are based on general labor market conditions, institution labor force needs, and vocational training needs of inmates. Also, many institutions have established apprenticeship programs, which are registered with the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Adult Continuing Education (ACE) activities are formal instructional classes designed to enrich inmates' general knowledge in a wide variety of subjects, such as writing, foreign languages, and math. Parenting programs are offered throughout the Bureau of Prisons. These programs are designed to help inmates maintain family ties and parental bonds during incarceration. Activities include parenting education, community-based social services, family literacy programs, and parent/child visiting room activities.
BOP recreation programs are intended to help reduce idleness, stress, and boredom associated with incarceration. Keeping inmates constructively occupied is essential to the safety of correctional staff, inmates, and the surrounding community. Further, these programs are designed to promote health, to reduce illness and related costs, and to increase the potential for post-release involvement in constructive recreation and health-related activities.