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Proposal to the Public Welfare Foundation: Criminal Justice Grant Contact Person: *********** Name of Project: Inmate Re-Entry Virtual

Simulation Amount Requested: $600,000 Project Dates: January 2013 – June 2016 Abstract: The Latah County Extension Office is an independent subunit of the University of Idaho that works to provide financial literacy education to the citizens of Latah County and the surrounding area. A key focus of the Extension office’s education services is the North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI), where Latah County Extension teaches classes and workshops in financial literacy as part of the prison’s larger educational rehabilitation program. This focus on education, particularly financial education, has proven successful in decreasing recidivism among NICI inmates. However, because of limited staff and budget, that education is currently limited to classes and workshops taught only five or six times per year. Because financial success depends on the ability to practice learned concepts, Latah County Extension intends to expand NICI inmates’ access to educational materials by creating a virtual, hands-on simulation that imitates re-entry into society. The simulation will allow inmates to practice re-entry processes prior to release, thereby increasing their chances of success and decreasing the likelihood that they will re-offend. The simulation project will take place over the course of three and a half years and will require $600,000 to complete.

A. Organization Description The Latah County Extension Office is an independent subunit of the University of Idaho that works to improve the social, economic, and environmental circumstances of its constituents’ lives. Though created as an agricultural institution, the office has greatly expanded its mission to include family finance education for the citizenry of Latah County and the inmates of correctional facilities in North Idaho, specifically North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) in Cottonwood. To achieve its mission, Latah County Extension offers family finance education to the community through a series of classes, workshops, and simulations, eighteen of which teach basic financial principles. Topics include budgeting, building credit, protecting oneself against identity theft, and others. To reach a larger audience, the office has built a virtual financial simulation in the online community Second Life that teaches financial literacy through hands-on interaction. For the past three years, Latah County Extension has extended its financial education services to the inmates at NICI because of a deep commitment to criminal justice and reducing incarceration in Idaho. The office first involved itself with NICI by participating in a resource fair for soon-tobe-released inmates and has since offered classes on budgeting, credit management, and planning major purchases. These courses are designed to teach inmates basic financial skills that will benefit them upon release, help them to re-assimilate into society, and decrease rates of recidivism among participants. Latah County Extension’s financial offerings are part of NICI’s larger commitment to providing vocational and life skills education to its inmates. The partnership has been successful in reducing recidivism and incarceration as a whole in North Idaho. NICI’s recidivism rate is less than 30%, much lower than the national average of 70%. B. Problems to be Addressed Financial literacy education plays a key role in preventing recidivism among prison inmates by ensuring their ability to adapt back into society, earn a living, and avoid future financial crimes. Latah County Extension is committed to providing this education to the inmates at the North Idaho Correctional Institution, but due to limited staff and budget, the office is only able to visit the prison five or six times per year, limiting the amount of education and practice in financial literacy the inmates are able to receive. The North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) is a minimum security prison that primarily houses inmates on retained jurisdiction. Inmates serve an average of eighteen months with a series of programming and evaluation, becoming viable candidates for probation rather than

incarceration. Inmate rehabilitation focuses on vocational and life-skills education, of which financial literacy education is a vital element. NICI first invited Latah County Extension to offer workshops on financial topics at resource fairs in 2009. Since its inception, the program has been one of the most popular education programs at NICI, offering classes to standing-room-only audiences. Several inmates have commented they never would have committed the crime that led to incarceration if similar financial education had been made available to them before incarceration. Latah County Extension’s work at NICI is extremely beneficial to its inmates; however, the office currently only offers their services to NICI on a very limited scale, providing classes but no opportunities for practice and review of topics covered in those classes. Although much of Latah County Extension’s financial education offerings are available online via Second Life, this virtual simulation is not currently available to NICI inmates because internet activities are banned at the correctional institution. C. Activities/Strategies Latah County Extension proposes to reduce recidivism by creating and distributing a virtual, hands-on simulation that imitates the experience of re-entry. The simulation will focus on basic money management skills and will prepare inmates to obtain identification, set up checking accounts, get credit ratings, find jobs, make payments on housing and cars, create short- and long-term budgets, and other such processes. The project plan runs the course of three and a half years and includes creating the simulation, distributing the simulation to inmates at North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI), and measuring the project’s success. The activities involved have been divided into four stages and are listed below. Stage 1 (Months 1-14) ● Work with program designers to develop an immersive, interactive simulation: ○ Design a paper mock-up of the simulation. ○ Create the virtual environment and develop each component of the software. ○ Test and modify the virtual environment. ● Work with prison personnel to create a secure system for software delivery. Inmate living stipulations exclude the use of the Internet, so the software will be hosted on a private network belonging to the facility. Stage 2 (Months 15-32) ● Deliver the simulation through a secure system to eligible inmates at NICI who have a sentence length of roughly eighteen months. As the project progresses, Latah County

Extension will profile these individuals to assess their participation and the effect of the simulation on their re-entry. ● Allow targeted inmates to work through the simulation on three separate occasions in two to three month intervals before re-entry. Stage 3 (Months 33-38) ● Work with released inmates and their parole officers to learn about the success of inmates’ re-entry into society. Methods of assessment are further discussed in Section F. ● Offer post-release opportunities for released inmates to revisit the simulation. A separate version of the simulation will also be made available online for inmates’ families. ● Run focus groups and modify the virtual environment according to feedback gained. Stage 4 (Months 39-42) ● Analyze the data collected from project participants, parole officers, and focus groups to develop project reports. ● Demonstrate and share the program with other correctional institution personnel in Idaho and across the nation. Offer conference presentations to explain the purpose of the project and its success rate, as well as methods of implementation for uninitiated institutions. E. Expected Outcomes The main outcome we expect from the project is a reduced rate of recidivism, resulting in a decrease in the number of incarcerated persons. The separate objectives designed to achieve this goal are as follows: ● The immediate outcome of the project will be the creation of a secure and sustainable financial education simulation that can be delivered repeatedly with a one-time-only production cost. ● Inmates will be able to practice re-entry and plan for their eventual release. These opportunities are increasingly important as state and federal budgets are cut and financial education opportunities for inmates become limited. ● Inmates will gain financial skills to help them keep from re-offending. ● The community will gain knowledge and insight regarding the best methods of re-entry education. ● The needs of inmates across the country will be met with one set of information. ● Costs to society will be reduced by decreasing rates of recidivism. Costs associated with re-arrest, prosecution, re-entry, and multiple stays in the prison system will be eliminated. Post-inmate dependence on government services like food stamps and low-income housing will be reduced.

F. Assessment Plans for monitoring the emergence and quality of the project outcomes occur during Stage 4 of the project plan. Latah County Extension will communicate with prison officials on a regular basis to document the reception of the simulation and the time spent with it by eligible inmates. The first inmates to use the program will be individuals with a sentence of roughly eighteen months at the North Idaho Correctional Institution. The office will communicate with these individuals during their stay at the institution and after their release to gather feedback about the project. Latah County Extension will discuss with released inmates the extent to which they believe the program prepared them for re-entry. Latah County Extension will also speak with the inmates’ respective parole officers to document the success of their re-entry into society. The officers will assess the ability of the released inmates to carry out the activities practiced in the simulation. In addition, Latah County Extension will create focus groups of participant inmates to gather feedback about the project. The office will use this feedback to assess the success of the project and to improve the quality of the simulation. G. Prior History Latah County Extension has been conducting bi-monthly financial education classes at the North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) since April 2009. Offerings have evolved from simple resource fairs to workshops filled with standing-room-only program audiences. Latah County Extension's Virtual Simulation Team has a combined fourteen years of experience in creating virtual environments on several topics, including financial literacy.