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Building inmates' skills through training, industry and education.

In the 1980s, several corrections agencies in the United States began using a concept known as TIE, which stands for Training, Industry and Education. The concept is based on the idea that incarceration should encourage--not interrupt--individuals' self-improvement.

The TIE concept offers inmates the opportunity to participate in positive and meaningful self-help and educational activities. Precise records document the skills and knowledge each inmate has upon entering the correctional system and record the gains he or she makes during incarceration. Inmates leave prison with a portfolio describing their abilities and achievements for use during job searches.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has used the TIE concept since 1986 to manage the inmate population and enhance the department's rehabilitative efforts. Currently, TIE is used at all 23 state facilities.

Correctional systems use TIE for several reasons:

* to maintain order, cleanliness, safety and security;

* to formally link education programs with industry programs, institutional jobs and vocational development;

* to mandate and organize inmate work assignments, thereby reducing idleness and fostering good work habits; and

* to develop and document inmate skills and knowledge for their successful social and vocational reintegration after release.

With this approach, all facility programs relate directly to work skills. By stressing education in tandem with work, TIE programs promote inmates' self-esteem and personal responsibility while preparing them for productive lives as family members, workers and citizens after release.

Most correctional systems nationwide are experiencing crowding and reductions in resources. A TIE policy can provide a clear sense of direction that more efficiently applies staff efforts and better controls inmate activities.

Growing unemployment rates and fewer job openings underscore the need to prepare inmates to compete in the vocational marketplace after release. Most inmates have gaps in their education and employment histories that must be addressed if society expects offenders to leave prison and not return.

The TIE concept allows each inmate to participate in a range of programs tailored to address his or her needs. Three general types of program administration--mandatory, optional and voluntary--are used.

Under mandatory administration, all inmates must have work assignments. Jobs either are linked to a specific job track or are based on institutional needs. Under optional administration, basic literacy skills are urged for all inmates as a foundation for quality work performance. Under voluntary administration, inmates must accept responsibility to participate in opportunities for self-improvement through vocational, religious, recreational, substance abuse and other programs.

In Ohio, TIE starts with reception, where inmates receive complete physical, psychological and social evaluations to establish a profile for further institutional treatment. Staff document their aptitudes, interests and skills to begin the comprehensive record they carry with them through their sentences.

Next, using several background and performance factors such as prior employment, acquired skills, prior education, military services and test results, staff identify job assignments they believe will most benefit inmates.

Ohio has five job tracks: academic, vocational, service, industrial and special needs. Except for a small number of inmates convicted of certain crimes, all inmates are placed in a track.

Academic. This track is for inmates working toward equivalency degrees such as Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development or post-secondary achievements. It includes tutorial programs, English as a Second Language programs and literacy programs. Inmates successfully completing these programs are considered for institutional job assignments requiring clerical skills.

Vocational. This track, which is also known as apprenticeship, is divided into jobs calling for highly technical skills (such as computer programming and electronics repair) and trades (such as masonry and carpentry). Inmates who complete these programs are candidates for assignment to institutional jobs in building maintenance or food service.

Service. This track is for inmates who maintain vital institutional services such as food service, maintenance, clerical work, storeroom and laundry.

Industrial. This track emphasizes developing positive work habits to prepare inmates for factory or industrial jobs. A key tool in this track is a salary schedule that approximates those in the private sector, granting increases as inmates successfully complete a probationary period and improve their reading, math and work skills.

Special needs. This track is for inmates whose exceptional needs preclude them from participating in other tracks. Mentally impaired, physically handicapped, geriatric inmates and those in administrative isolation or protection are placed in this track. Education is delivered by tutoring them in their living areas.

An important TIE component is pre-release preparation. In classes, inmates receive consumer tips, review ways to maintain good family relationships and go over the responsibilities of citizenship. They also learn how to write a resume, search for a job and prepare for job interviews.

Community service has become a major emphasis of the program. Each institution coordinates inmate volunteers within local communities to refurbish parks, prepare Braille materials for the blind and create graphic arts for the schools, often working in tandem with other state agencies. These efforts are intended to instill within inmates a sense of community belonging and pride.

In addition to education and work programs, the following techniques, programs and services can be incorporated into the TIE program.

Unit management. Unit management teaches inmates self-reliance and helps them manage their own problems. It also encourages staff to work as a team in applying TIE strategies. Without its coordination through unit management, TIE would be much more difficult to apply.

Substance abuse. Since nearly 85 percent of inmates nationwide have been involved with alcohol or drugs, programs that help inmates confront substance abuse can help reform personal behavior.

Recreation. Well-organized group and individual recreation activities reduce stress by allowing inmates to burn off energy in socially acceptable ways. Team sports build a sense of social belonging and group accomplishment, and crafts allow freedom of expression and pride in personal talents. Library services staff also can play an important role by sponsoring special events and encouraging inmates to use the library during inmate non-work hours.

Mental health. Counselors and psychologists can help inmates deal with problems resulting from the frustration of incarceration.

Medical services. The ability to participate in other self-help programs depends on inmates' physical well-being. In addition, physical rehabilitation and medical counseling also can help disabled inmates adjust to living with disabilities in the community.

Religious. Counseling from the orientations of various faiths can help inmates discover and use inner strengths and build the self-reliance necessary for independent living after their release.

Although TIE has done much to address the concerns of inmate idleness, prison crowding and prison-to-parole transition, Ohio is working on ways that TIE can be of greater benefit to short-term inmates.

The TIE concept is gaining acceptance in the United States. National TIE conferences jointly sponsored by ACA, the Correctional Education Association and the Correctional Industries Association were held in 1985, 1988 and 1990. Ohio officials have found TIE to be a worthwhile practice that both manages institutions and prepares offenders for successful lives after their release.

Wes Jones, Ph.D., was a deputy warden of TIE for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction from 1983 to 1989. He is now the department's education assessor.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Correctional Education; the Training, Industry and Education concept
Author:Jones, Wes
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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