Associates Degree: an undergraduate degree, usually received upon the completion of a persons first two year of a four year college program. An Associates Degree (AA) is usually offered in prison educational programs. In many prisons that do offer educational programs, an AA is the highest degree an inmate can obtain.

GED: General Educational Development test, also commonly referred to as the General Education Diploma, recognized as the equivalent to a high school diploma in the United States and Canada, and typically received by students who did did not complete high school. A GED is sometimes the first step towards a higher education in prison, with the next step being the Associates Degree.

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Incarceration: A word used to describe the act of being detained in prison. A person currently serving time in jail due to committing a crime is ‘incarcerated’. According to NAACP, “the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people.” This rapid rate of incarceration is one of the main reasons lifebeyondprison focuses heavily on recidivism: to address different ways to stop the incarceration rate to continually rise.

Marginalize: to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. (source)

This term is used most commonly used when describing a group that is under represented, has been historically oppressed, or does not receive the same equal opportunities as others in a population. Historically marginalized groups include African-American, Latino, Jewish, Indian, Women, LGBT, Homeless, and most commonly represented on lifebeyondprison, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.

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Non-violent crime: A crime where the offender does not use force against a victim. Examples include forgery, cheating, drug possession/use, motor vehicle offences, conspiracy, or financial. A “white-collar crime” is considered to be non-violent, and may  typically involve business men or women, making illegal financial or monetary crimes. Because these crimes are not violent, and are typically done by caucasian or ‘upper-class’ citizens, they are not punished as hard, and incarceration terms are less strict. This can be considered an injustice, or unfair practice considering the demographic and class these crimes are common to.

Offender/Reoffender: Essentially, the definition for Offender/Reoffender is a person who breaks the law. From violent to non-violent crimes, if you break the law, you are considered an offender. A person who breaks the law, goes through the prison system, is released from prison, and breaks the law again can be considered a reoffender.

Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially : relapse into criminal behavior (source)

One of the most commonly used words on lifebeyondprison, and the focal point of this blog. Recidivism rates in the United States are at over 67% according 1994 research done by the Federal Bureau of Statistics. Being released from prison, only to reoffend and return to prison is what recidivism is, and is a habit prison system needs to address, work on, and eventually bring down.

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Reentry: A term used to describe a formally incarcerated persons transition and adjustment from living inside of a prison, to being released from prison and then living outside of prison again. Once a person is released from prison, they are on their own. Prisons are not required to help a person find a home, school, job- anything. The reentry period for a person coming out of prison is one of their most vulnerable and critical moments, as how they reenter society plays a huge role in determining if they will be successful, or if they will reoffend.

Regulated: To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law. (source)

Within a prison, inmates are regulated in multiple ways. From the amount of time they have to use the yard, food, contact with the outside- to dress code, behavior, and even lifestyle choices. Another way we use the word regulated is in regards to how the law is followed outside of prison, and how breaking certain regulations can land you in prison.

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Rehabilitation: Can refer to drug, mental health, medical, counsel, psychological, or of course criminal rehabilitation. Rehabilitation (Rehab) most commonly means to restore to good condition, to proper working order. Prison rehabilitation should aim to help criminals learn from their previous mistakes while still incarcerated, to become better people once they are released.

Sentence: A judgement; specifically; one formally pronounced by a court or judge in a criminal proceeding and specifying the punishment to be inflicted upon the convict. (source)

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Violent Crime: A crime where the offender uses force against the victim. Examples include abduction, assault, murder, rape, and robbery. These crimes are considered to be more heinous, and are usually sentenced more harshly than a non-violent crime. Offenders who have committed violent crimes can also be considered for the death penalty, a sentence which guarantees the offender will be killed by the state in prison.

Vocation: The work a person does, or the occupation a person holds. Many prisons will offer vocational education programs to inmates in prison.