A new state sponsored program aims to reduce recidivism by educating small groups of inmates and preparing them for the outside world.

Participants in the 12 to 18 month residential program receive a minimum of four hours of schooling Monday through Friday, homework in the evenings, inmate run study groups, optional evening programs, and even yoga to help their mindfulness.

Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett and the Undersecretary of re-entry Ben Thompson joined Boston Public Radio Monday to discuss this new program.

“An education is really another way of saying, ‘Can I earn a living?’ If a person doesn’t have the ability to earn a living, many of them will revert to what they do know, which is crime,” said Thompson, a former inmate himself.

Inmates who want to join the program must apply and then be interviewed by either Thompson or one of his staff members. He says that the majority of the men entering the program have a third-grade math level and a sixth-grade reading level. “Everyone of these men failed in the public school system,” Thompson said.

When Thompson was released from prison he was given little more than five bucks and shown the door, he said. Thompson and Bennett believe that the program, in addition to providing prisoners a better chance of retaining a good paying job, will reduce recidivism, crime and overall prison cost.

“I want to do the right thing for people,” said Bennett. 2,500 prisoners are released back into their communities, says Bennett. “You know if you haven’t made a change in their lives they are going to be back in your community committing crimes.”