- Report Published -
|Staff and Facility Utilization by the Department of Correctional Education|
|Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission|
|Appropriation Act - Item 618 (Regular Session, 1985)|
|The Department of Correctional Education (DCE) administers one of the principal rehabilitative programs of the State's correctional system. DCE was created as an independent agency in 1974 to operate educational programs for individuals confined in the Commonwealth's youth and adult correctional institutions. In June 1985, 48 DCE schools were serving 684 juveniles and 2,673 adults. Approximately 77 percent of DCE's $9,183,565 fiscal year 1986 appropriation is for academic and vocational instruction; the balance is for administrative and support services.|
Since 1974, the level and types of services provided by DCE have greatly expanded. For the most part, these services are efficiently and effectively provided. DCE has established schools at all State correctional facilities and initiated new programs in apprenticeship, college, literacy, special education, and social education. The number of adult inmates earning vocational certificates and the equivalent of a high school diploma in 1985 is five times greater than the number in 1975. In the juvenile learning centers, where school enrollment and attendance is mandatory, enrollments have declined as the number of youth in the State correctional system has declined. During this same time, however, the number of youth earning the equivalent of a high school diploma and completing vocational programs has increased.
Corresponding to expansions in correctional educational programs, DCE staff has increased significantly. The DCE maximum full-time employment level for fiscal year 1986 is 363 positions; approximately 50 percent (119 positions) greater than the fulltime employment level in 1974. As of September 1985, DCE also maintained 66 additional wage (P-14) positions. Further, the Department of Corrections (DOC) currently provides and maintains 350 classrooms and offices for use by DCE personnel in State correctional facilities.
Item 618 of the 1985 Appropriations Act directed JLARC to study staff and facility utilization by the Rehabilitative School Authority (renamed the Department of Correctional Education in July 1985). This study was to be conducted in conjunction with a series of studies of the correctional system in Virginia. To meet its legislative directive, JLARC evaluated effective utilization of DCE's programs and the adequacy of staff and facilities to carry out these programs.
JLARC used three major criteria to measure effective utilization of DCE's correctional education programs:
• Are the programs reaching the targeted incarcerated population in State facilities?
• Are the programs accomplishing their educational and rehabilitative goals?
• Are educational programs an integrated part of the rehabilitative efforts within State correctional facilities?
Criteria to measure the adequacy of staff and facilities included:
• Are DCE's schools filled to the capacity that the assigned number of staff and amount of classroom space can accommodate?
• Does DCE meet staffing standards and other factors that determine need for personnel?
By creating DCE as a separate agency with statewide jurisdiction over the education of incarcerated individuals in the custody of DOC, the General Assembly has ensured that its goals for correctional education are being addressed. Responsibilities for administration and management of education programs in correctional facilities have been clarified. Funds appropriated for educational purposes are expended for those purposes. And, overall growth and upgrading of correctional education programs are occurring.
Moreover, the level of cooperation between DCE and DOC appears higher than at any time in the past. Additional efforts by these two agencies would be useful, however, to more effectively provide educational services to incarcerated adults and juveniles. Recommendations contained in this report generally intend to strengthen Virginia's unique method for providing correctional education through a separate State agency. Consolidating DCE with another State agency does not appear necessary or desirable.
The number of staff utilized by DCE to administer its programs is generally adequate. If enrollments in DCE's adult schools increase, additional instructional staff may be necessary to provide needed services. Field units, in particular, need expanded educational programs. However, some positions in adult schools are currently underutilized, and enrollments need to be increased to justify existing positions.
If enrollments are not increased, JLARC recommends that DCE's staff size be decreased from 429 to 416 positions, a net reduction of 10 full-time positions and three wage (P-14) positions. The recommended reductions in full-time staff are primarily: (a) vocational teaching positions in the juvenile learning centers where small class sizes do not appear to justify the current number of positions, and (b) academic teaching positions in those adult schools where enrollments are far short of classroom capacities. Reductions in wage staff are administrative, instructional, and library assistant positions whose responsibilities could be assumed by other staff or inmate aides in adult schools (see Table).
DOC facilities utilized as DCE classrooms are adequate to serve the current number of inmates enrolled in DCE's programs. However, to partially accommodate long lists of inmates waiting to enroll in vocational programs in major adult facilities, DOC and DCE will need to identify space that can be converted to vocational classrooms. Limited use of available space in correctional field units is one of the principal factors that restricts inmate enrollments in those facilities to nine percent of the field unit population. Space is sufficient to provide required instruction to all youth in the learning centers.