Doug Irving for the RAND Corporation: Donald Daniels is an inmate at the California Institution for Men, a sprawling prison complex about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. He's 49 years old, a prison veteran with 14 felony convictions on his record. His latest offense, for making criminal threats, helped land him in one place where a RAND study showed he stands a good chance of turning his life around: a prison classroom.
Inmates who participate in any kind of educational program behind bars — from remedial math to vocational auto shop to college-level courses — are up to 43 percent less likely to reoffend and return to prison, the study found. They also appear to be far more likely to find a job after their release and the social stability that comes with it.
Every dollar invested in correctional education, RAND concluded, saves nearly five in reincarceration costs over three years. ...
More than 2.2 million people were locked up in American prisons or jails in 2013 .... They are more likely to struggle with reading, to have learning disabilities, to have broken work histories and fewer job prospects. Around a third of all state prisoners never graduated from high school.
And every year, more than 700,000 state and federal prisoners are released back into their communities, often with no greater life skills than they had when they went in. The result: Around 40 percent of them commit new crimes or violate their parole, and find themselves back behind bars within three years of walking free.
Education helps break that cycle.
A hard look at Saudi Arabia
Doug Bandow for the Cato Institute: There is much bad to say about Tehran's authoritarian and interventionist Islamic regime. But even worse is Saudi Arabia, considered by Washington to be a valued ally.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is essentially a totalitarian state. Last year Human Rights Watch reported that Saudi Arabia continued "to try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities."
Freedom House rated the kingdom at the bottom in terms of both civil liberties and political rights. Purported "antiterrorism" legislation allowed the "authorities to press terrorism charges against anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent."
The State Department devoted 57 pages to the Saudi monarchy's human rights (mal)practices: "The most important human rights problems reported included citizens' lack of the ability and legal means to change their government; pervasive restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and freedom of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and a lack of equal rights for women, children, and noncitizen workers."
The Saudi royals are, if anything, even more repressive when it comes to matters of faith. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that the regime "remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam."
William Frey for the Brookings Institution: The Sun Belt states gained well over one half million migrants in 2014-2015, coming close to matching the 600,000 Snow Belt to Sun Belt migration peak in 2004-2005.
Leading the way in this exchange was Florida, which gained 202,000 net migrants last year alone — leading all states in domestic migration gains for the first time since the years 2000 to 2005. After that period, Florida experienced a rollercoaster migration pattern from a net in-migration of 267,000 in 2004-2005 to net migration losses from 2007-2009; inching back up to the 100,000 range between 2010-2013, and 137,000 in 2013-2014. Similar but less extreme U-turns were taken by ... Texas, Colorado, Arizona, South Carolina, North Carolina, Oregon, and Georgia, each of which received more migrants last year than the year before.
On the other side of the coin are mostly Snow Belt states like New York, which followed the opposite of Florida's U-turn. When the Sun Belt in-migration was peaking, New York experienced its biggest migration losses — over 200,000 migrants annually from 2003 to 2006. After the recession, out movement from New York declined over time to 85,000 in 2010-11 with subsequent increases in losses to over 150,000 in the last two years.
New Jersey, and to a lesser extent Ohio and Michigan, followed similar patterns. And so did California.
Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.