The Hinda Institute is currently piloting an Educational program within selected correctional Institutions. The goal of the program is to help our clients:

 ·    Develop literacy; reading and writing skills

·     Envision the potential of higher education 

·     Develop socially, ethically and emotionally; and finally

·     Transition to the community.

 The courses use a blended approach using self-study materials sent by mail, student mentors from universities, classes and other types of learning such as MP3 players (internet is not permitted). The courses will include exercises developed by special education experts to encourage literacy skills and motivate individuals who may have difficulty with reading and writing.  All courses will also involve extensive opportunities for reflection and discussion. Two courses have been developed and delivered in conjunction with Prof. Erez from the University of Chicago and Prof. Seng from John Marshall Law School.

Help us by volunteering to tutor. This work may be counted toward legal volunteer hours. If you don’t have time to volunteer, please consider donating towards books, workbooks or textbooks Please contact Abby for more information. 


Understanding the Problem -  Education, Incarceration, Recidivism and Employment

 It is no secret that there is a nexus between incarceration and the ability to read and write. Forty-eight percent of the incarcerated population are estimated to have low reading skills (Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, Autumn 2013) and illiteracy rates in the prison population are estimated to be as high as 75%. While there are no formal statistics, contrary to popular myths, incarcerated Jews like the general population also have low literacy skills; more than half of our clients do not have a High school degree or higher education.


 Furthermore, for formerly incarcerated individuals, the disadvantage of not having a high school diploma is compounded by the multiple barriers to successful reentry and the additional stigma they face when they reenter their communities and the workforce. On average, formerly incarcerated individuals earn 11 percent less than those with no criminal record doing the same job. They are also 15 to 30 percent less likely to find a job in the first place .

Education is the most cost-effective way to reduce crime and leads to long-term benefits across the entire U.S. population . Literacy reduces recidivism rates. Simply put education means jobs and the self-esteem to move on with life.  It's vital that our clients are provided opportunities to develop their literacy level in prison and envision a better future; an engagement in reading and writing is crucial to this process.

 In 2016, the RAND Corporation produced a report that showed that individuals who participate in any type of educational program while in prison are 43 percent less likely to return to prison.

In addition, Research shows that children with parents with college degrees are more likely to complete college, which can create social mobility for families.  


Correctional Institutions Need our Help

 Correctional Institutions need our help implementing educational programs.

•   Only 26% of State prison inmates said they had completed the GED while serving time in a correctional facility.

•   In 2016, the Vera Institute of Justice reported that only 35 percent of state prisons provide college-level courses, and these programs only serve 6 percent of incarcerated individuals nationwide. Receiving a quality education continues to be out of reach for much of the prison population due to a lack of funding for, and access to, the materials needed for the success of these programs.

John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections,: “If they’re getting back out, why aren’t we giving them the tools to be successful?” "More than 90 percent of incarcerated people will eventually reenter their communities, education is one of the best tools to help them succeed.  "


This program is sponsored by the Walder Institute in honor of Daniel Azari.



 Hinda Hero

“When I was 30 years old, I made the worst financial mistake of my life and spent 44 months in prison. When I entered, I had a 4-year-old child. I was filled with regret, despair and hopelessness. The Hinda Institute was there for me. It meant so much to me that Rabbi Scheiman of the Hinda Institute drove 300 miles to visit me every month. He not only brought me reading material, helped me celebrate the Jewish holidays, but assisted me with my spiritual and mental needs. I felt so alone and isolated and it meant a lot that somebody from the outside cared. He understood that I was a human being that made a mistake. He helped me accept that it was going to be okay and gave me hope.”

In prison, Sara didn’t have access to classes or any technology. She had no money to buy books and no access to information. Technology changed very fast and by the time Sara got out, she had difficulty using technology even to find a job.

“There was no specific organization to help find a job for felons. I had to quickly find a job to not violate my probation, but I had no education, technical expertise or transportation and no one wanted to take a risk. I was rejected from many jobs. I finally got a job in a clinic at the front desk reception. I worked hard because I desperately needed to keep my job but my lack of skills became an issue. One day, I was asked to do a spreadsheet in excel. I couldn’t do it. I had no experience and no one wanted to help; it was a competitive environment. When I told them the truth, my boss laughed in my face. He called me “retard”. He told all the doctors; my ignorance was comical for him.”

“I eventually enrolled and finished a degree and was accepted to a MA program in Political Science. Recently, I was accepted to a summer program at Harvard University. I regret however not having more access to books, education and technology while in prison. Education gave me Independence. Employment is empowering. If I had had more access to books and education in prison, it would have been completely different. It is not just the books themselves, books would have helped me to understand that there is hope and that I can change. If someone told me at that time that I could’ve gotten into university, I would not have believed it. It would have changed my perception of myself. There is a big culture shock when you get out of prison. It would have been great to get ready and prepare myself to live in society.”