Integral Correctional Education


This article briefly introduces salient aspects of the field of correctional education, defines correctional education, introduces the Integral model, and outlines the historical periods of correctional education practice. A discussion of some core principles of correctional education is followed by some problems that afflict inmate students, correctional educators, and the communities they serve. The article ends by suggesting that these problems might be solved if governments recognized that—despite the public safety concerns they have generated—prisoners are still people. This humanistic solution can be embedded within an Integral approach to correctional education. In addition to supporting such humanistic solutions, the Integral approach also results in less partial, more efficient, and less costly solutions to identified problems. Interested readers can explore the next article in this series.

THOM GEHRING is a Co-Director of the Integral Correctional Education Center at Integral Institute and a Co- Director of a Correctional Education Association Special Interest Group. He has been a correctional educator since 1972, in New Jersey, Virginia, New York, California, and worked in other systems as a consultant. He has served as a teacher, counselor, researcher, administrator, and professor. He manages the Core courses of the Masters of Arts degree, with emphases in education at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). Thom directs the Center for the Study of Correctional Education at CSUSB, Along with his wife, Dr. Carolyn Eggleston.

MARGARET PUFFER is also a Co-Director of the Integral Correctional Education Center at Integral Institute. With 17 years of experience, Margaret is a teacher in the Alternative and Correctional Schools unit of the Orange County, California Department of Education. She establishes and implements collaborative education programs between parole agents, community-based organizations, and county agencies in Southern California to promote successful community transition and employment for youthful parolees. Margaret is past president of the Tri-County Correctional Education Association (Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, CA); a senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Correctional Education at California State University, San Bernardino; and a board member for the National Institute for Correctional Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


It’s interesting for me to think on this topic from the view of working in an institution for involuntarily committed mental patients. (in the past)
In a mental hospital where the patients have been involuntarily committed because of a crime either alleged or convicted - the individual is treated as a “patient” and more from a humanistic perspective, but has fewer rights. For example, the Psychiatric staff can request an “Order to Treat” and if a Judge agrees from that point on the patient can be given medication by force. I don’t think prison staff can inject medication into inmates with the purpose of making them more compliant. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they can. Also, a mental patient has no “rights” as far as parole or even defined term of imprisonment. A mental patient can be committed for life for a minor offense if he/she is not able to meet and maintain in perpetuity the requirements of “conditional release”.
Is this a shadow of Green tier or an inevitable requirement that an more humanistic approach would require disallowing certain Orange “rights”?