English-as-a-Second Language Program (ESL)

Program Description The English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) Program is designed to help limited English proficient inmates improve their English until they function at the equivalency of the eighth grade level in listening and reading comprehension.
Time Frame Depending on English skills and motivation, inmates participate in the ESL program for a varied length of time. ESL classes are scheduled Monday through Friday. Each class session meets a minimum of 1 1⁄2 hours per day. With few exceptions, limited English proficient inmates are required to participate in the ESL program until they function at the eighth grade level as measured by standardized reading and listening assessment tests.
Admission Criteria All limited English proficient inmates in the Bureau’s correctional facilities are required to participate in the ESL program.
The following inmates are exempt from the mandatory ESL participation requirement:(1) pretrial inmates; (2) inmates committed for the purpose of study and observation under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 4205(c) or, effective November 1, 1987, 18 U.S.C. 3552 (b); (3) sentenced aliens with a deportation detainer; and (4)other inmates whom, for documented good cause, the Warden may excuse from attending the ESL program. Such inmates, however, shall be required to participate when the special circumstances are no longer applicable.Although exempted from mandatory ESL participation requirement, all limited proficient English speaking inmates are strongly encouraged to participate in the ESL program.
Program Content Program content primarily focuses on developing functional English listening and reading comprehension skills such as locating and utilizing resources (e.g., libraries, public transportation, drug stores, grocery stores, employment opportunities).
Empirical Support Research has shown that individuals who are literate only in a language other than English are more likely to have non-continuous employment and earn less than those literate in English (Greenberg, Macias, Rhodes, & Chan, 2001). Data from the 2000 U.S. Census on immigrant earnings revealed a positive relation between earnings and English skill ability (Chiswick & Miller, 2002).

An analysis of higher quality research studies has shown that on average, inmates who participated in correctional education programs (to include ESL instruction) had a 43 percent lower recidivism rate than those inmates who did not (Davis et al., 2014). Lower quality research studies revealed a 13 percent lower recidivism rate for those inmates who participated in correctional education programs than those inmates who did not participate (Davis et al., 2014). The same research study also has shown that correctional education is cost effective (a savings of $5.00 on re-incarceration costs for every dollar spent on correctional education).

Applicable Policies 5300.21 Education, Training, and Leisure Time Program Standards.
5350.24 English-as-a-Second Language Program (ESL).
Institution Locations All Bureau facilities offer the ESL Program.