Headline: Funding Higher Education in Prisons. by- adventureclubviral.
Education is the difference between a life of crime and a productive life?
the state of washington recently proposed a house bill to allow the state department of corrections reallocation of existing education funds to include higher education.
there are many reasons people support proposals like this. education in prison seems to correlate with a reduction in the rate of recidivism- which translates into an overall reduction of crime. former prisoners with a degree have better employment opportunities- which means increased chances for success while trying to integrate back into society. on the inside, directors and teachers note that student prisoners are better behaved, and are made human again by engaging in the structure and cognitive challenges that academia provides.
for both taxpayers and state officials though, the cost of higher education in prison draws deep dividing lines. right now in washington state, federal grants and other private resources are what pay for in-prison degree programs. a lot of voters will look at this bill and immediately oppose that their money go into education for criminals. simply put and hard to argue- especially as public education for our children continues to suffer. further evidence shows the average cost per year per prisoner is in the ballpark of $20,000, whereas the annual cost of a student lucky enough to attend a state college is below $10,000. taking what they will from these sorts of statistics, voters are not overly eager about financial support for the incarcerated. anyway- this particular legislation is not about extracting more money from taxpayers- it is about making available already existing funds to the correctional institutions- empowering those with the jobs to rehabilitate, correct, and prepare prisoners to function in society upon release.
i find it an interesting cycle. many of those that end up in prison are the failures of education in the first place. the uneducated, the poor and the racial minorities dominate the population behind bars in this country. and although they are removed from society to repent for their crimes- they are supposed to be in an environment of correction. notorious is the expression holding cell- and really- are we turning the locks and turning our backs all the same? prison is not a black hole of punishment from which there is no return. if it was- we should just lock them up and throw away the key. rather, prison is an interim. a time and space for criminals to rehabilitate because eventually they will be released. prisons are crowded and dangerous- obstacles enough for those who try to clean themselves up and prepare for another chance at the real world. but 70% of them will end up going out and committing another crime and half of them will end up back in prison within three years. education might be a bright light in a dim place.
also worth mentioning in this cycle is that there are plenty of parents among those incarcerated. when they reunite with them upon release are they able to set any better example to their children? imagine children that are proud of a father for his college level achievements in prison. imagine they are inspired to take their own education more seriously and want to attend college themselves. it might not be such a stretch.
i have always found tragic comedy in the fact that some people might actually consider prison a place of comfort. the state provides a bed, three meals, a television, a library, maybe some protection from a life on the streets and yeah maybe even a shot at college. the disparity is sad and true. anyway…