Review of Administration of Selected Aspects of the Student-Tutor Education Program by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-09-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

 ev,iew Of Administration Of Selected
Aspects Of The Student-Tutor
Education IProgram By The National
Endowment For The Humanities
National Foundation on the Arts
   and the Humanities


                              COMi=TWOU.ER              GENERA&,     QF      THE       UNiTED      STATES

                                                      WASHINGTORI.    D.C.         20548

                 In acccordamce
                              with ysur request, we examiaed into certain
          aspects of a gramt awarded by %he Na%iQnal EndQwment for the                                      ,:,y",;:.
          Meunaaities     to samdeis Umiversi%$y o                     Massachusetts,       to              : ,' -'
    /'    operate the Student-Tutss             Education
                                                        _    P?QAgr     (STEP).
                   We agreed %.bat we would obtain information              on (I) the
          legislative       au%hori%y for %he pfogran,           (2) whether the
          EadQwment had consulted            with the Federal Bureau Qf Prisons
          Qr Qther Federal agencies prior                %Q i%s decision    ts participate
          in the program,          (3) the basis for selecting         par%icipants      in
          the prOgraIn, (4) %he m.mbex= of par%icipan%s                in the prQgram,
          and (5) the paymen%s made %Q particfpan%s                 in the program be-
          fore and af%er their           release    from prison.
                   We examined +ecQfds and in%esviewed     officials   Qf the
          Endswment; the Massachusetts        Department Qf Correctfsns,      Par-
          ole Office,      amd Parsle Bsard; %he Law Enforcement      Assistance
          Adminis%ss%i~n      of the Departmen% of Jus%ice;       and
          lh.iversi%y.      We alss me% with the directax-     Qf %he program
          and sQme of the tutsrs      direc%$y involved    im i%.
                 The purpssse Q% STEP, as csnceive             by its directsr,   was
          to identify    prisons imates       with the Hn%effec%ual       capaci%y for
          beaefi%ing    fS5ti'Y$L%ege-leve%       %raining.      The prQgram was
          condticted  a% selected      Massachusetts      priscans fQr inmates who,
          it was believed,       would be helped by courses in the humanities
          %Q fimd jobs     Q% to cQn%iIHJe %hefr educatiQ?l          QphCQ~hge caI'Il-
          puses af%er %heir release         frQ3R prissn0
                   The prsgram      was established   in June 1868 by the Florence
           Hel%er Graduate         School for Advanced Studies    in Social  WeBfaPe
         1 a% Bran&is        Universi%y    af%er approval   was Qbtained RrQm prison                            .
           csfficia9bs and officers        of %he Massachusetts   Department Qf
           Csrrec%isws*      D?.lring mi8-69)    the firs% year Qf the PFQgXXliI,
           funds of $2%,800 were provided          by a private fsmdation  and
           Brandeis     University,     Ifs Federal   funds were prevlded.

                              F              50Tl-l     ANNIVERSARY                        192l-1971
      Because of %hehea liberal arts emphasis of the program
and ia oxder to demomit te %-hewalue of the bumani%ies in
he       conwiceed criminals reenter society successfulfy 0
Br      s lhiwersiey  in February 1969, submit%   an application
%O      Bndowmt3wt for Federal finaneiial assist ce for STEP
       h accordace    wi%h the National Foudo%ion on %he Arts
and %he M       i%ies Act, %he Naeional Counci% on the Humanities
reviews appfieations    and m&es recQ~e~da%io~~     on them %o %he
Chairman of the Endowment, In May 1969, afler ehe coulcil
had rsviewed Wd approved %he applica%ion,       the Endowment
advised Brandeis %ha%i% w0ul.d award a grant of $?rO,ZSO
provided %ha%an equal, amount was made availlabke by private
source8 8 Two priwa%e organizations--%he     Char3bes E. M3rril31
Trus% and tie Marcus Founda%ion--previded     %he matching funds.
      %a %he first year of STEP, prior %Qthe period of Bndow-
men%fi      ial asistance,   the program was offered only a%
%he max     -security prison a% Walpole, Massa~&use%%s, Dur -
ing the second year 1969-70, when Ermdowmentsupper% was
prswided, %be program was offered also a% %he medius-security
prison a% Norfolk, Massachuse%%s, and a% the Pr%dus%rial School
 for Boys a% Shirley, Massachuse%%s, The Endowmern%is no
%ongsr providing financial   supper% for %he program; howeverp
it is s%i%l being carried ou% at %he three insti%u%ions,
      The grogr   at Shirkey currewtly   is beinag admi
Brandeis Unive    ty and is being funded wi%h S%a%e
fimas * The Federal      ds are made availablbe ts %he
%hro     the eQmmi%tee on E Enforcement and Administration        of
Crim    P Justice QS%a%ep%    ning agency)   bps %he Law Enforee-
men%Assistance Adminis%ra%ion of %he Depar%men%of Justice.
It is an%icipa%ed %ha%, fcm the year from Sep%ember 1970
through Augus% 1971, about $128,000 of Law Enforcemen% funds
will have been furnished for %he program a% Shirley.       Thus 0
al%hoaagh STEP is no longer being finapPced by the Endowmen%,
Federal ftukks are being made awailable by %he Depar%men%of
Jus%ice %hrough Law Bnforceman% gran%s a
      The acting execrative direc%or of %he S%a%epllanning
agency advised us %ha%%he,State Degar%ment of Corrections
had received $28,000 from %he Seats planning agericy to enable
the STEP program curren%ly being conducted a% WaPpoEe and
Morfolk prisons %o be continued %hrough Aups% 3.971,


         The acting executive        director    told us that,    of the funds
the State planning       agency had requested          from the Law Enforce-
ment Assistance       Administration         for its next year’s    operations,
$100,000 was for education            services     for inmates at correctional
institutions       at the State and county level.           There has been no
determination       as to whether any of this amount will be made
available     for STEP training.

       The National     Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities
Act of 1965, approved September 29, 1965 (20 U.S.C. 951),
states    as one of its purposes    that it is necessary    and
appropriate      for the Federal Government to assist    and add to
programs for the advancement of the humanities        by local,
State,    regional,    and private agencies and their   organizations.
      The act provides    that the Chairman of the National
Endowment for the Humanities)          with the advice of the Federal
Council on the Arts and Humanities            and the National  Council
on the Humanities,     is authorized       to develop and encourage
the pursuit  of a national      policy     for the promotion   of pro-
gress and scholarship     in the humanities.          Under the act the
Chairman is authorized      specifically       to
      --initiate     and support    research and programs          to
          strengthen   the teaching     potential    in the
          humanities   by making arrangements         (including
          contracts   and grants)    with individuals         or
          groups to support such activities           and
      --award fellowships       and grants to institutions
         or individuals     for training   and workshops
         in the humanities.
       According    to a report      prepared by the Endowment in Novem-
ber 1970, precedence        for assistance       from Federal   agencies in
prison education       and rehabilitation       programs is well established.
Assistance     for such programs has been provided            by the Depart-
ment of Justice;       by the Department of Labor; by the Department
of Health,     Education,     and Welfare,     through both the Office      of
Education     and the National       Institute     of Mental Health;    and by
the Office of Economic Opportunity.


             For  example       9 Project      Newgate in Oregon, which was sup-
    pOrt8d      by the Office          of Economic Opportunity,            was    an eXga8d-
    mental program providing                 college-level        courses    to inmates       of
    corr8ctional          institutions        a It was begun at the Oregon State
    Prison,      Salem, Oregon, in 1967’ and was expanded in 1969 to
    institutions          in four other States.               Also the Endowment previously
    supported       a similar         educational       experiment      in 1968-69 by the
    Pennsylvania          State University          which provided        instruction       in
    the humanities           for inmates        at the Pennsylvania          State Correc-
    tional      Pnstitution,          Camp Hill,       Pennsylvania.
            We were advised by the acting      Chairman of the Endow-
    ment that the declaration       of purpose of the act and the
    authority     granted  under the act are broad and enable the
    Endowment to sponsor such programs         as STEP., We agree that
    the Endowment has the necessary        authority   to sponsor such
    programs D

           According    to Endowment files,       the initial     proposal      sub-
    mitted    by Brandeis      in support of ats request       for financial
    assistance     for STEP was considered        by a panel of experts          in
    the educational       field.    Endowment officials       advised      us that
    they customarily        used such panels to review        applications       sub-
    mitted    for grant assistance.        The sumary       of the STEP
    proposal,     as prepared     by the panel for the consideration             of
    the ~at~o~~~ Council         on the Humanities,     stated     that:
             “The Student-Tutor             Education       Project        is a model
                        d to become a part of prison                     e
                              It tests      the viability           of an educa-
             tional     program for inmates               of notable,         if unrec-
             ognized      intellectual          capacity,      hypothesizing
             that the development              of the prisoner’s              potential
             will    affect      positively        his rehabilitation             after
             release.         STEP identifies           these students           and
             prepares       them for further            study at colleges             or
             professional          schools      leading     to appropriate
             occupational          roles e OperatPng            full-time,        year- s
             round, STEP membership                is voluntary,           students
              are remunerated.             The group of 12 to 15 students,
             led by two tutors,             discuss       assigned       readings       in
             a seminar        setting.        Indiwidual       help is given on
             basic skills         e Approach is interdisciplinary)


       with a single          subject,       drawn from the humanities,
       considered        from various         viewpoints        over several
       weeks.      Performance          is measured by tests            and
       impressionistic           reports o Assistance              is given in
       planning      for post-release             placement;       close and
       continuous        follow-up        permits      evaluation.        To
       determine       the optimum age-group                for a program of
       this   sort)      three projects           will     be established;
       one of older,          high-rate        recidivists      ; one of
       young-adult         inmates ) and one of adolescent
       inmates e”
       The panel found the proposal      to be reasonable   but rec-
 ommended consultation      with the Federal   Bureau of Prisons.
 The panel recommended support       for 1 year and the Endowment
 staff  concurred    with the panel.
         Our review    of the minutes       of the meeting      of the National
I Council,    at which the approval         of the STEP grant was recom-
  mended, indicates      that the Endowment requested             comments of
  the Bureau of Prisons       but that no comments were received.
  The following     year, when the Endowment was considering                a re-
  quest from Brandeis       to extend     financing       of STEP, comments
  were requested     again from the Bureau of Prisons.                In July
  1970 a Bureau education        research      specialist     advised   the Endow-
  ment that:
       “Brandeis’       proposal    to offer      an education
       program with a liberal           arts focus for the
       adult    offender     is a very desirable         exten-
       sionof      the first     year’s    effort    which was
       directed      toward the younger         inmate .”
 The research     specialist   recommended approval   of the project.
 There was no indication       that any other Federal   agencies   were
 consulted   prior    to approval   of the grant for STEP.
 Program     activities     and inmate      participation
        During the first    year of operation          and prior  to financial
 support    by the Endowment,      courses were given in mathematics,
 English p and science    but college       credits      could not be earned
 by participants.      Twenty-four      inmates     participated    in the

             During the second year when financial                support     was pro-
    vided by the Endowment,             tutors   were accredited       by Northeastern
    University      , Boston,     Massachusetts,       and college      credits    could
    be earned for various            courses    in English,     introduction       to
    literature,         rhetoric   and effective       speech,    earth sciences,
    history,       and psychology.         Noncredit    courses were given in
    remedial      mathematics,       business     and economics,      and playreading.
    During this period,           23 inmates      at the maximum-security          prison
    at Walpole,         19 inmates    at the medium-security          prison    at
    Norfolk,       and 47 inmates       at the Industrial       School for Boys at
    Shirley      participated      in the program.
            Under the current         program,      being continued       without     Endow-
    ment assistance,         college-credit         courses    are offered      in litera-
    ture,     philosophy,      sociology,     political      science,     business     and
    management,        and earth sciences.           Noncredit      courses    are offered
    in remedial       mathematics       and playreading.          IVe have been informed
    that 14 inmates         at Walpole      and 26 inmates        at Norfolk      are
    participating         in the program.
            The STEP program at Shirley         has been taken over by the
    State of Massachusetts       and is being supported          with Federal
    funds made available       by the Law Enforcement        Assistance       Admin-
    istration.       At the request       of the State authorities,        the STEP
    staff      has assumed responsibility       for the entire       academic
    program at Shirley      e
            All prisoners         participating       in STEP were volunteers.
    When the program began, an announcement                      was distributed
    to each inmate explaining                 the program and requesting            those
    interested       to schedule         interviews     with the program staff.
    We were informed          by the program director             that they selected
    the inmates        to participate           in the program and that,           although
    there were no formal             educational      prerequisites        for partici-
    pation,     they tried        to select       the brighter      and younger inmates
    who might benefit           from the program and continue                their     edu-
    cation     after     release.
            The director     pointed     out    that,    on the basis of the inter-
    views,     some inmates      who were      self-educated      but had less than
    a formal high school          education       were allowed     to participate       in
    the program.        We were informed          also that,     in making the
    selections,      consideration       was    given to the inmates’         sentences
    and that participation           in the     program generally      was limited
    to those who had a possibility                of parole    in 2 to 5 years.

        Participants     in the program received   a payment of 25
cents a day from STEP funds during the time that they were in
the program,         The payment was in addition   to the usual minimum
payment of 25 cents a day made to all inmates by the State.
The program director        told us that prisoners   who work receive    an
additional       25 cents a day and that the payment of STEP funds
was to replace        the additional  money the STEP participants
could have earned by doing other work rather          than participating
in the program.
      We were advised by the coordinator     of sponsored research,
Brandeis   University,  that,  during the period     of Endowment
support,   about $2,300 was paid to inmates participating       in
STEP but that these payments were made from funds made avail-
able to STEP by the Charles E. Merrill      Trust and the Marcus
Foundation   and not from Federal funds.     The program director
told us that no STEP funds, private      or Federal,    were used
for any postrelease    payments to STEP participants.
          As noted previously         the Endowment supported            the program
for     only 1 year.        Brandeis had applied          for extension       of En-
 dowment funding p and in August 1970 the Endowment made a con-
 ditional     offer    to support the program           through 1973 in the re-
 quested amount of $193,752.                In September’1970,         however,      there
 was a bank robbery during which a police                    officer     was killed,
 and the authorities           charged five persons with complicity                  in
 the robbery,       including      three former STEP students,              one who
 subsequently       had attended        Brandeis   and two who were to attend
 Northeastern       University.         The robbery,      in which the former
 participants       in STEP were involved,           caused the Endowment to
‘question     its ability       to sponsor successfully             a program involv-
 ing the rehabilitation            of persons with criminal            backgrounds.
       The Endowment, on the basis of its review of the program,
questioned   its own competence to evaluate  prison education
programs and concluded:
               w*** Important     as the inclusion         of
               a humanistic    dimension     is in college
               programs for prisoners,         the Endowment’s
               staff   hasn’t  the extensive        capacity     to
               make complex judgments in that field
               that it has in other fields           where non-
               educational    factors    are less important.
               To develop such staff        expertise      could


                      be justified       only if the Endowment
                      were to make prison            education     a major
                      undertaking,       which    it   does    not   wish to
                      do, and which in Amy case would put it
                      in overlap      with the several          older,
                      larger,     and more experienced            Federal.
                      agencies     already     providing       assistance
                      in the field,
                      *?The conclusions        for the Endowment seem
                      clearly     inadicated:      In the future,           to
                      the extent       that the Endowment partici-
                      pates iA programs         Of prison       education
                      at all,     it will     do so only by seeking
                      joint    arrangements       (perhaps      to fund
                      humanities      segments of larger           programs,
                      for example)        with Federal       agencies       such
                      as O,E.O, that are working               substantially
                      in the field.          As for STEP, it is not
                      such a program;         accordingly       the Endow-
                      ment has terminated          participation          in it.”
    Effect     of the program           on    participawts
            The STEP staff     did not conduct                  any formal       follow-up
    on paroled    inmates who had participated                        in the program.           If a
    former participant       so desires ) he is                   encouraged       to keep in
    touch with the staff         by telephone      or             by occasioaaal       meetings.
    The program staff       maintains     information                 relating       to the
    addresses,    J‘ohs held,     or attendance                 at schools       for those former
    participants      who desire     to maintaire               this    contact.        ‘hnforma-
    tion concerning      all former participants                      is maintained          by
    the State Parole       Service.
           The program officials       advised   us iA June 19731 that the
    information    they had concerning        the 20 participants   iA STEP
    who had been released        on parole was as follows:
             --Three      had been      returned          to prison.
             --One had violated              parole       and was in    a drug      treat-
                ment center o
             --Five      were working         at some form         of gainful       employment.

      --Two had moved out of the         State,     and no further
         informati0A was avaiBable       .a
      --Five   were   enrolled   ipa education      cw job-training

      --Two    had AO~ furnished      i~f~~matio~       as to their   where-
         abouts e
      --One had been returned        to jail      and subsequently    had
         been paroled,
      --One was deceased.
         The three participants        who were again in prison       were the
three men charged with complicity              in the bank robbery      during
which the police        officer     was shot to death.     h Endowment
report     on STBP pointed       out that the men charged with the
crime were released           by the Parole Board which had the sole
authority      in the matter.        The report   noted that the program
officials      provided     the Parole Board with information         on the
participants        in STBP eligible      for parole.    The report    noted
also that &his was only one source of information                used by the
Parole     Board and that the Bndowment had AO evidence             that the
program officials        had had any undue influence        QA the parole
decisions     e
        This point    of view generally       was confirmed     by the
chairman     of the Massachusetts        Parole Board who told us that
board members’ decisions           on paroles   were based primarily     OA
attitudes      of the inmates.       The chairman    stated   that the most
important      factor   considered    was what an inmate represented       to
himself     and the community.        He added that participation      in
STEP could have had a bearing            on a board member’s decision,
but that an inmate who had not improved             his attitude,
whether     he had taken part in STEP or any other educational
or rehabilitation        program,    would not be considered       for
       We plan to make no further         distribution    of this report
unless    copies   are specifically     requested,     and then we shall
make distribution      only after    your agreement      has been obtained
or public     announcement     has been made by you concerning       the
contents    of the report.


               We hope that   this   information    will   be of assistance   to

                                                    ComptroPfer  General
                                                    of the United States

        The Honorable  Edith Green
    ; r House of Representatives