It is not a surprise to see that prisoners all have a low education level. I guess a more educated person has enough sense not to be involved with crimethe relationship between crime and education is easy to see when viewing these facts (Cordes 1). This is the view of most people when asked why people are in prison. People simply say that criminals were ill educated. As hard as we may try, we cannot do a lot about what happens before they enter prison, but there are many programs inside prisons to help rehabilitate them for when they leave the prison.
The New York Theological Seminary for Afro-American male prisoners (NYTS) runs a program at Sing Sing Prison that allows inmates to get their masters degree. This program meets five times a week and has only about fourteen to sixteen men admitted every year. The program has become so popular that there is a waiting list of one or more years. The NYTS program helps these men prepare for community service. Forty-two credited hours must be completed in order to receive the degree. Students must also complete a minimum of fifteen hours of field service within the prison.
Since the program was established, more than two hundred men have received their degrees. The program is offered in other prisons, and inmates are allowed to transfer to Sing Sing in order to complete the program. Everyday men and women alike challenge themselves, but none as much as those men and women living behind bars. Freedom is a struggle that begins in ones mind. These African American men [in Sing Sing Prison] behind bars challenge themselves daily to live as free human beings. Their courage should inspire us to do the same (Marable 2).
There is another federal program that is called Credits for Cons. This is a program proposed by the Clinton administration. They proposed a fifteen hundred education income tax credit (Stanglin 1). This would allow volunteers to get the credit if they sponsored an inmate who took college courses. Many believe church members would take part in this plan, as many have done in the past to help drug addicts. Though the proposal has not yet been passed, many people have said they would be an active member in a program like this one.
North Carolina also puts great effort into their educational systems in prisons. The prisons attempt to give adults tools to make a living so they will not return to the states criminal justice system (Young 1). The prison system realizes that an immense majority of inmates will be released; we need to prepare them for outside life. Without the efforts of educational programs, a prison can become a revolving door, with inmates having nowhere to go but back to the prison with no future (Young 1).
A majority of the states offer a GED program, but North Carolina profits from a Community College system that offers classes in academics, auto mechanics, masonry, wiring, plumbing, and computer literacy. The Community Colleges offer two-year degree programs in many areas. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers business association classes to inmates over twenty-five years of age. Because of the excellent programs they have to offer, more than five thousand of about thirty thousand inmates are in the education program and these numbers continue to grow.
Educational programs are among the few activities individuals in federal prisons can pursue in order to bring meaning and hope to their lives (Santos 1). Whether an inmate studies on his own using the library resources or spends forty hours in a classroom, prison walls appear to be more permeable (Santos 1). But many inmates cannot study on their own because of poor reading skills, or no reading skills at all. The amount of inmates able to read has gone up since Congress passed the 1994 Comprehensive Crime Control Bill.
This bill said that inmates who could not pass the high school equivalency test are unable to receive time off their sentences for good behavior. Many prisoners want time off their sentences, so this motivates them to go to the GED classes, and actually pass the tests. If an inmate already had a high school diploma, or GED, they can use prison libraries to study. Prison libraries differ in size. Many of the old buildings hold about twenty thousand books, while the new ones hold only a few thousand. The Interlibrary Loan System is a program that allows inmates to borrow about any book they can think of from nearby libraries.
This allows a broader studying view for inmates studying on their own. The last program researched was Reaching out the Write Way it was found to be one of the most touching. It is a project that encourages students in literacy classes at prisons to write original childrens story for their own children or family member. The project is funded through a six hundred dollar grant from the Minnesota Education Association (MEA). Professor Pauline Geraci comments, My students are all men who rarely get to see their children.
I thought this would be a great way for the students to learn writing skills and get their children to read as well (Reaching 2). About one hundred and fifty students take part in the literacy class. One of the students even sponsors a child from Chile. He wrote two for him: one in Spanish and the other in English (Reaching 2). Not only does the program help the students to become more literate, it also helps their children learn how to read and gives the child some sense that his or her mother or father in prison really does care about.
The children treasure the books probably more than anything else they will receive from that parent in prison. After the students complete the yearlong literacy course, they will be allowed to teach the class to others. Hopefully this wonderful program will continue to be passed down and many more children will learn that their mother or father does think of them while away from home in prison. Not only does the program interest writers, but it also involves the art department to animate the story to make it more enjoyable for the child to read.
Reaching Out the Write Way is a wonderful program held at the Stillwater Correctional Facility. In conclusion, educational programs in prison range from very good with programs like Reaching Out the Write Way and the programs North Carolina has to the ones that arent all that good like credits for cons. Education, in combination with work programs, can give inmates the skills they need to be successful when they return to their communities…
It can enable them to do a job that reduces prison costs, such as taking messages, running a library, like Andy in Shawshank Redemption, or reading recipes to work in the kitchen (Young 2). Many people think that educating prisoners is being soft on crime, but when you think about it, all it really is doing is working to make sure that the revolving door will stop revolving (Young 1). If this door keeps going around in the circle it is now, it will come to cost the taxpayers up to if not more than one hundred dollars a day. The cost of education is minute in comparison to its benefits (Young 2).
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