ABC Literacy

The L.I.F.E Program

The benefits to the New Jersey State Prison community are numerous. Not only are inmates improving their literacy skills, but also the program provides a cost-effective, purposeful prisoner activity and gives inmates working as tutors the chance to spend their time in a positive, supportive role while using organization and management skills. Over the years, the L.I.F.E. Program has come under the authority of three prison administrations that have recognized its value to the individual men. Prison Administrator Roy Hendricks recently commented:
"This institution is geared more towards compliance … Inmates are doing 50, 100, 300 years. If an inmate goes to school over a period of time, he begins to feel better about himself and the number of disciplinary charges he incurs are significantly reduced…We depend on our volunteers to provide positive programming for the men here at New Jersey State Prison."

Over the past seventeen years, the program has had 136 tutors and 236 students who have reached their personal goals of obtaining a GED, enrolling in school, reading a book, reading to their children or reading letters from home. One student received his GED and then became a tutor in the program. Program Manager William Brown states:

"We've had students who couldn't read or write and after completing the program, they got their GED. For us, that's a success story."