AUSTIN, Texas -- About 70,000 Texas inmates are released from the system and re-enter society every year, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Officials testifying on Wednesday said about 32 percent of the inmates in Texas will return at some point.
There are some programs in place to help drop this number, and most of them are education-based. But lawmakers said more can be done to make sure inmates stay out of jail when they get out.
The majority of the roughly 140,000 inmates in Texas will be released back into society.
"Mostly made up of dropouts, those with learning disabilities, dyslexia, I can go through the list," said Sen. John Whitmire.
Lawmakers worry that without proper education while behind bars released inmates will circle right back into the criminal justice system.
"The average offender has a fifth grade, six months reading level," said Clint Carpenter, Superintendent of the Windham School District.
On average, an inmate within the Texas Criminal Justice system will only gain one school year's worth of knowledge before their release, regardless of the length of their sentence. Sen. Jose Menendez said that in addition to classroom time, more emphasis should be placed on interpersonal training.
"Soft skills to help with the job, you know, showing up on time, how do you interact with people," said Menendez.
To cut back on recidivism, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice launched the "Website for Work" back in January. It pairs offenders with 135 different employers upon release. School districts team up with state jails and prisons to offer certification courses for inmates.
Officials say the courses have been successful, nearly 30,000 inmates have learned new skills through the Windham School District alone. Of the 60,000 to 70,000 people that are incarcerated in the prison system each year in Texas, officials say 40,000 won't have a high school diploma when they're arrested.
Lawmakers are convinced that education is the key. Sen. Whitmire went as far as to say that it should be against the law in Texas for an inmate to be released without earning a GED.