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Access To Prisoner Education And Correctional Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 4728 words Published: 1st May 2017

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Prisoners receiving an education will always be opposed by some people. Most prisons offer inmates the opportunity to pursue educational courses, including basic adult education, secondary education, college courses, special education, vocational training, and study release programs. Such programs teach inmates new skills and equip them for life when they complete their sentence. Today, over ninety percent of the federal and state prisons offer some form of educational program to inmates. Prisoners obtaining an education while incarcerated should not be an option, it should be mandatory.

Some of the prison population would not be in prison, if they received proper support early in life. Over half of the prison populations have a reading and writing skill level at or below an eleven year old child. With proper education support, a portion of the prison community would never return to prison.

they are still human beings that need a purpose to their lives in order to be productive people

is the single most effective tool for reducing recidivism. Mandating correctional education would make it much easier for a parolee to find and hold a decent job, and unlike drug users or any other addition, there are no relapses for those who escape illiteracy.

In 1991, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act was created by an Office of Correctional Education. This act was intended to increase the quality of education in the United States prisons.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which would make convicted felonies ineligible for the Pell grants.

The studies showed that for every dollar spend on education, two dollars that would cover the cost of re-incarceration are saved.

The society’s welfare is positively impacted when inmates acquire education.

Misconduct is also effectively reduced by these programs because emphasis on personal responsibility, respect and tolerance of others are being taught. The Inmate Education enables inmates to acquire pro-social values and life skills.

The Department of Education study on prison education is significant because it quantified the reduce in recidivism among inmates due to attending classes or training while in prison.

Read more at Suite101: Education in Prison: Benefits of Inmate Education Program http://www.suite101.com/content/education-in-prison-a94395#ixzz0zgMpxRoz

State’s budget cuts have taken away educational opportunities in prisons. Teachers were laid off. College correspondence courses and vocational trainings have been cut drastically. All of these changes signify fewer opportunities for inmates to educate themselves and become more productive citizens when released back into society. A big reason why the current budget crisis in California exists is because of the numerous prisons that were built and then filled to overcapacity. That resulted in having to pay for more correctional officers’ salaries, more food, more clothing, and more medical attention for inmates. Prisons then wouldn’t be so overcrowded. When inmates leave prison with a G.E.D., college degree, or vocational training skills, they have a better chance at making it in society. the progress we made in education to convince the parole board when it came time for release. Without schooling, this opportunity to show our aspiration and tenacity through education has been taken from us. When you release people from prison who didn’t get the opportunity to further their skill set or education, you’re sending people home to where they were before coming into prison. If the public doesn’t take note of the fact that the success of inmates in prison will eventually help our society and communities in the long run, it shouldn’t expect the crime rate or the amount of money they pay in taxes for housing prisoners to go down

If a prisoner received an education while incarcerated, the prisoner has something to offer society. If the prisoner has nothing to offer, it is most likely that the person will end up in jail.

prisoners are mandated to being educated while in prison, once released they can find employment and have a home. The crime rate will decrease as a whole. Most people feel they have no other choice in life, but to become criminals.

Although it is in fact “prison,” the treatment they receive is nothing short of easy. With free meals, free exercise equipment, free religious services, free counseling, and free college education, prison seems ideal.

Some argue that privileges offered in county prisons are too abundant and defeat the purpose of serving one’s actual sentence, while members of the opposite belief say that these offerings are needed to keep the inmates sane.

“Education does change minds, teaches people how to think better, [and] how to find alternatives to the way they used to do things,” said Stephen Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association.

The main argument erupting in the minds of American citizens today, however, is: should inmates receive a free college education? The opinion can go either way.

For some, they feel free college education is a privilege taken way too lightly by the inmates who are receiving it. Hard-working American citizens fight everyday to be their best, striving to succeed as far as they can. Why is it fair that inmates, citizens who have committed crimes, are able to receive a college education for free?

Inmates who have caused their families and communities harm are being given an education that they most likely take for granted. If one is in prison, chances that they are aiming to better their education while serving their time are slim.

If a murderer is convicted, does society really believe that their first thought when they arrive at their vacant jail cell will be “when does school start?” No. Counseling and help is what they really need.

If somebody is creating chaos and destruction, an education should not be their first priority to making things “better.” Those who have chosen to commit a crime have chosen to limit their opportunities and freedoms.

Providing inmates with a college education also means that tax payer money is going to said programs. Why should innocent, law-abiding citizens be forced to pay for those who have done wrong?

The professors and instructors employed at prisons are taking time out of their schedules to provide for those who have done wrong. These people are taking a risk and could be caught in serious danger if the “students” are not watched carefully.

The information and knowledge that they gain could also be used negatively. If one is in prison because of a crime that involved deep knowledge and planning, providing them with an education may only better their success rate if they choose to again commit a crime.

Another topic of concern; why should death row inmates or felons who have received a life sentence be given free education? Death row inmates can take some classes, although they are not allowed to leave their cells.

A teacher delivers instruction to the prisoner through the bars. They will not be able to use the knowledge they gain because they will always be in jail. So what’s the point?

Many continue to ask; should repeat offenders still receive a free college education? Obviously they have been given a second chance to better their lives and make things right again, but they still continue to make mistakes. Why do these felons deserve this right, when law-abiding citizens still must pay the fee for higher education?

From the other end of the spectrum, however, many will argue that education in prison is what inmates need to keep them sane and alive. Providing them with an education will offer the knowledge that they can have a successful life after prison.

Some believe that what inmates are taught in jail should be based on a personal level and that the curriculum should focus on individual effort.

On March 14, 2006, a group of educators began their work at a local prison in Worcester, Mass. The experience they gained not only gave them a great sense of self accomplishment, but allowed them to learn along with their students.

They know how to translate educere, which in this context means “enlightenment” or “to enlighten,” into a meaningful practice and thus transform education into practical knowledge, the kind that leads not only to a better job but also to a more meaningful and creative life.

“It’s rejuvenating,” said Antonio Rivera, 23, of the Cheshire Correctional Institution, who is less than halfway through a 12-year sentence for drug dealing.

Another example of schooling in prisons occurs in Hagerstown, Maryland. The prisoners, who are held at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, a medium-security facility, recently earned their Master of Theology Studies degrees through the Prison-to-Pulpit program from Covenant Theological Seminary of Tallahassee, FL, a training school that has a Maryland branch.

Personally, I believe inmates should not receive free college education while incarcerated. They have obviously committed a crime or a series of crimes, and need to be punished for their actions.

While some argue that serving “hard time” is enough punishment, I believe that, as a prisoner, they have lost every right as a free man.

If the education they were receiving was not at a collegiate level and had volunteers providing the material, it would be different. But for them to receive free college education is ridiculous.

Students work hard to gain a college education, and it is not fair that one receives it for free, especially if they do not truly want it or appreciate it. People today argue about the temptations that society must face and overcome. In these hard times, it is tough to be a well-rounded individual.

Obviously, there is no excuse for committing a crime, but there has to be somebody to blame. I truly do not understand why these criminals are given the education that hard-working men and women must compete for.

The issue of inmates receiving free college education is a touchy subject that has obviously stirred controversy. American citizens are free to believe what they feel and, as a strong-minded country, it would be difficult to change their opinions

Whether you are for or against inmates receiving free college education while incarcerated, one is entitled to their own opinion. In the words of Voltaire: “I may not agree with the words you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I completely disagree with you. The American justice system is supposed to focus on rehabilitation and not be a penal system. I DO think there must be more therapy in prisons, but I also think there must be an opportunity to get an education or else you are setting these offenders up to fail when they are released from prison. As most individuals know, you must have a college degree to get anywhere in America these days. If offenders are released from prison and try to find a job with their criminal history, lack of recent experience, and no education they are not very likely to find a decent job, that is if they find a job at all. They leave the prison with nothing, you have to give them the foot hold of an education if they want it.

Chuck on March 26th, 2010 11:07 am


There are good people who haven’t ever been arrested who can’t afford to go to college, why should inmates get something law abiding people don’t [for free]? Law abiding citizens shouldn’t even get a free ride to college from the government anyway. You have to think things through logically and don’t base your decisions off of your emotions.

This is a good article.

julian on April 6th, 2010 8:59 pm



I disagree with you. To say it isnt “fair” is based on emotion. Logically, if inmates do earn a college degree, it helps us benefit in the long run, because we wont have to spend more money sending them back to prison. Second they will also help by paying taxes.

Chuck on April 8th, 2010 11:09 am


I’m sorry Julian, you’re wrong. First off, I never used the word fair, so if you’re referring to me, you’re misquoting. Anyway, my comment is completely logical… people shouldn’t be rewarded for a crime, therefore, people in prison shouldn’t get free education.

“Logically, if inmates do earn a college degree, it helps us benefit in the long run, because we wont have to spend more money sending them back to prison. Second they will also help by paying taxes.”

This isn’t logical, its not logical to assume a convicted criminal will automatically become a normal citizen. About 62% of people arrested will be arrested again. So you really believe that as soon as they get an education their ways will change? But again, you shouldn’t be rewarded for committing a crime.

barney on April 9th, 2010 11:18 am


I don’t really agree with this article. Its based to much on the naive stereotypes of prison. Stereotypes such as every man in prison is guilty, they get everything for free, ect.. First off, educating criminals is probably more beneficial to the safety of them and others, making them educated is better than leaving them as violent apes. Let’s say a man who has been in prison twenty years has just been released. He has nothing. No money. No friends, nowhere to live. He’ll end back up in jail in less than 2 years. Give him an education, maybe it won’t end up like that. Not every man in prison is guilty, that’s just a sad fact. The justice system is not perfect and never can be. So unless you have been in those shoes, you could not possibly understand how important thing like an education can become to a man. Also, to be fair, if an inmate doesn’t want an education, i don’t think they would force it upon them. It is probably only going to be given to those who want it.

TONY on April 13th, 2010 11:13 am


To all who read this article, I am the reason that the masters of theology program that came to MCTC in Hagerstown MD . I am a former armed robber and I never believed I deserved anything free. As a matter of fact I am grateful that I live in a time of mercy, Had it been 2000 years ago, I would have been on that roman cross myself, even 100 years ago I would have been hanged so, I can express with certainty ,as a former inmate, and now living a productive, taxpaying life with a wife and 2 kids and a member of my Church for many years now, that I never felt I deserved anything but punishment. And to the saying there are innocents in prison I didn’t run into anyone trying to say that but to mention in one case a guy said he was innocent of the crime he was serving time for but guilty for others he didn’t serve time for. To get back on my point, the program was started because God had put in my Heart to first , help converted Christians that were guilty felons to be able to defend their Faith against Islam and its recruiting of inmates, nationwide problem by The way, and 2 when they went back to their communities they would be a force for good and change their communities( In Baltimore city 8 out of 10 black men go to jail once in their life). Now, that being said Covenant theological seminary of Tallahassee is NOT FREE! We held Golf tournament fundraisers and also require inmates to pay (inmates make about 28 dollars a month from duties inside prison) so they feel invested and are less likely to drop out . Also this inhibits lazy inmates from undertaking something because its free then realizing its hard work to get that degree. The reason felons go back to jail is they have no credentials for a job, we wanted them to have some so they can take their place as ministers and pastors in a Church community that has mostly women in these positions(most black men in Baltimore city are in jail). I hope Kara reads this and hears that I do believe that when I committed my crimes I deserved to lose “every right as a free man”. I deserved it then, I live with it now. I cant vote, I cant own a gun, I cant get a good govt job. I’m a carpenter, I make poverty level wages. And I am grateful that I have this second chance.


Chuck on April 14th, 2010 10:51 am


You’re a good man Tony.

Patricia on April 21st, 2010 9:44 pm


I’m doing some research on a speech, a study (in the 80’s) showed that prisoners who began but did not complete the college course work available at the time re re-arrested at a rate of about 44%, compared to those who attained a degree being re-arrested at 24%, that’s huge! Especially when the cost of housing, feeding and clothing an inmate for one year today in a county Hailie about 32,000 a year. I work full time -40 hrs a week and still don’t make that much. Also, I’m getting college for free through a federal pell grant but convicted felons are not eligible b/c of “tough on crime” raegan policies.

Why shouldn’t people with a desire to learn who just didn’t have the opportunity within their community be denied the option now simply because of a bad choice? If you can give them the tools to avoid finding themselves in the same situation over and over, why not??

John on April 22nd, 2010 11:56 am



You are missing the point. What if a good person “doesn’t have the same oppurtunity” as someone else? By giving criminals and people who can’t actually afford college free rides, we are punishing people who work hard and pay for college because college spots are taken up and colleges raise prices to make up for the people who are given it free. Not only that but by giving it to everyone for free, it eliminates the value of college. The value of college is to gain an education to give you an advantage in the work force, if everyone has the same advantage you might as well not go to college.

Besides, college is not a right, period. If you can find somewhere in the Constitution where it says everyone should get free college, let me know.

Patricia on April 27th, 2010 4:47 pm


College isn’t a right, but when people are released from prison and can’t get a job, what do they do? They go back to committing crimes (again), you go back to what you know.

There are federal grants and scholarships for people who can’t afford it, I’m a receipient of such a program.

If it has been proven through research and actions that you can DROP the rate of people re-entering the prison system, and DROP the amount of TAX MONEY that is being spent on housing/clothing/feeding/hospitalizing criminals and put them to work to pay the taxes back once they finish some type of higher education, why would you not want to?

I cant see why you feel that in that case college isn’t an advantage but when our country can benefit from lower crime, better educated citizens and more people working, why wouldn’t we want to see that?

Tina on April 28th, 2010 2:40 pm


I can’t believe where some of you making comments on here are coming from? I understand this is the United States of America and everyone is entitled to free speech, but really? Are you serious? PRISONER’S ARE IN PRISON FOR VIOLATING OR TAKING THE TOTAL AND COMPLETE RIGHTS FROM ANOTHER PERSON!! Should they receive a free college education while there? NO, NO NO and I say NO again! I am a hard working citizen, My husband and I both work 40+ hours a week, We have 2 children to provide for and I go to college full-time as well. Do I get college paid for me? NO, I have to pay for it myself. My son is preparing to go to college next year as well, does he get college paid for him? NO, he will have to pay for it himself.

I am also the victim of a horrible crime, my Father was murdered by a man that was out on parole for slicing someone’s throat! Where is the justice? Why does he deserve a free college education and I & my family don’t?

Are prisoners going to change there ways, most likely not. There are a select, and I mean a very select few that may change. That is great for them! However, there are thousands of people, good people not in prison searching for jobs everyday & can’t find or get one. When a prisoner is offered a free college education, gets out of prison and finds a job because of the education he received while in prison, what kind of a system is that? Criminals getting a job over a good upstanding non-criminal citizen & because of an education offered free while in prison?

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Prisoners should not get anything paid for, they should have to work for each and everything that they do get. They did the crime, they should PAY & serve the time. They should’nt have any rights that will better them in any way. They should suffer just as their victims have and do! An education is a privilege, not a right for a prisoner! In which, they DO NOT deserve at all!

hi, i am a high school student but i completly disagree with them recievig an education that the rest of us has to pay for or file for a grant to be abaile to reciieve. I feel that you can’t set someone up for failure! That they do this themselves when tthey make the choices that they have. If someone cared enogh then they wouldn’t have dropped out or commited the crime. they find it a privilage and want to go more than stay out.. so why offer what is drawing people to jail? I may be just a high schoo, student but it seems ridiculous for us to waste our tx dollers on this!!!!

Come on, mindy. With that little error-filled rant, you are undermining our point that prison inmates should NOT receive an education.

Having recently completed my freshman year in college, I am already $5000 in debt. I have three more years, if you don’t include medical school, to accumulate even more debt. From this viewpoint, I do not think that inmates should receive free education. I have never broken a law in my life, but I am going to graduate with a debt that I have to pay off while paying for my house, car, etc. Its not a matter of what is fair, but rather what is just. It is not justice that they receive free college education. They should pay for their choices to break the law.

I agree that they should not receive free education beyond high school or GED. Its not fair for hard working people to have to struggle to send one of their family members to college. I do think that Tony has a good idea, I live in Maryland, tomake them pay for the education to let them know they are not being rewarded for their actions. They should be being molded and prepared to be able to function in the real world and learn how to obtain an education through their hard work and paying for it. I understand that life throws challenges sometimes beyond your control but just like the people that get them same kind of problems they learn to work through it and not go to jail, doesn’t get a free education or get it handed to them. They have to work hard and then they are recognized for their accomplishments. Even though prisons are supposed to be for rehabilitation it is also punishment. So beyond them receiving the basics I dont hink that they should receive free college education. They also take away jobs from people that shave been working towards their degrees for so many years and then someone that has committed a crime gets out and gets the opportunity first. I have family thats incarcerated and my views are the same. They should promote people striving to get an education when they get out and they can even help them but they should not be allowed to obtain degrees.

Tina, I have to disagree with your assertion that “PRISONER’S ARE IN PRISON FOR VIOLATING OR TAKING THE TOTAL AND COMPLETE RIGHTS FROM ANOTHER PERSON!!” The violent ones, robbers, murderers, thieves did, but I did not. I was convicted of selling marijuanna and I took no ones rights.

The money being spent to educate a child in elementary school in 2008/2009 was just a little over $10000. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66 The money being spent to keep a prisoner in jail ranges from twice that: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/statsbrief/cost.html to 4 1/2 times: http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/laomenus/sections/crim_justice/6_cj_inmatecost.aspx?catid=3. That’s your hard earned tax dollars at work.

Let’s imagine for just a moment that the education an inmate receives in prison actually helps him stay out of prison. That’s the case with me. The government is NOT paying 10 to 30 thousand dollars a year to keep me in prison … and they can use that money for another purpose. Perhaps to upgrade the Governor’s office bathroom.

I might be in the minority, but I cared about and valued highly the educational opportunity I was afforded. It didn’t make me a smarter criminal … it made me a smarter citizen that pays taxes. Instead of blaming “The Man” for putting me behind bars, my education showed me how I was the one that put myself behind bars. I have no interest in going back there and will do whatever I can to stay out of prison.

Someone mentioned a statistic that over 60% of people released go back to prison with 2 years. That may be true. I submit, however, that an education earned in prison reduces that percentage by a significant amount. This URL has an interesting statistic … http://www.bard.edu/bpi/pdfs/crime_report.pdf

Most strikingly, the State of Texas reported the extraordinary recidivism impacts of

postsecondary education: “[T]wo years after release, the overall recidivism rate for college

degree holders was as low as 12%, and inversely differentiated by type of degree.” The exact

figures indicating these inverse recidivism rates for degree recipients were: Associate’s (13.7%);

Baccalaureate’s (5.6%); Master’s (0%).

In other words … that 60+% recidivism rate applies to uneducated inmates. Allow a prisoner to earn an Associate’s and the rate drops to 13.7%. If they are incarcerated long enough to earn a Master’s the likelihood of their return drops to zero. Every person that stays out of prison and rejoins society like I have, earns a wage and pays taxes. Part of those tax dollars go to pay for children’s education and part goes to pay for inmate’s incarceration. I know where I would rather spend my money and it’s not on keeping people in jail


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