The Importance of Prison Education and Why Should it be Funded

  • Category: Crime, Education,
  • Words: 1343 Pages: 5
  • Published: 17 May 2021
  • Copied: 119

Today we all believe that education is one of the most important things that a person can possess, but when some people say everyone, they exclude a particular group. The group in question would be the individuals that make up the prison system. As of now, there are about 2.3 million people in prison for various offenses with nothing to come back to once they finish their sentences. (Criminal Justice Facts). With nothing but their past coming back to them, sadly they re-offend because that life is all they know, but there is a way to stop the cycle. That is where prison education comes to play and why funding it would be the best rather than worst thing you could fund. Not only does prison education reduce the recidivism rate, but it also allows the individuals involved to get their education that most of them desire. Prison education has positive and negative effects, but upon researching it is found the prison education is positive for everyone involved and allows the push for education for everyone to be the same. 

Back Ground and History 

To understand why prison education should be funded, we must look at why the fight for prison education has been started. The article, “Momentum for Prison Education” written by Ashley Smith, partially discusses the history of the ban of financial aid awarded to inmates. In a basic summary, in 1994 the Clinton administration but a ban on the aid inmates can receive, but once the Obama administration came to power in 2015, that ban was reversed and turned into the Second Chance Pell Grant, which gave inmates a way to pay for their participation in these programs. (Smith). Without the funding from this, most prisons that had these education systems had to quit them because it was a struggle for the inmates and their families to pay for the classes. When the education programs started up in different states, such as Minnesota and Ohio. The years following this change in prison education, with that came studies and personal testimony of why prison education programs are important for the inmates that participate in them. 

Reasons for Prison Education 

Prison education is important because it helps the inmates involved find themselves and allows them to get the education that they desire or need to compete for jobs upon release. If we take a step back and look at the first reason prison education is important, an article written by Lois Davis “Higher Education Programs in Prison “, states that “PIAAC study that found “30 percent of individuals incarcerated in U.S. state and federal prisons lack a high-school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalency” (Davis). Implementing prison education programs whether it be General Ed or highschool level classes, could help the individuals participating in them get the education that they didn’t have access to during their life. Like a school classroom, prisons with these programs have the same set up including teachers, books, desks, etc, though this is a positive situation there can be some issues with this. In some cases, both parties involved the programs could be at risk for harm, according to the article “18 Big Pros and Cons of Education for Prisoners.”. (Chief). While there are procedures to follow if and when something happens in prison, there isn’t a way to determine who or when something will happen. For this reason, some might not agree with having these programs, but this type of setting can improve efficiency in the classes. 

Studies on these programs have been written about and looked at by people to see if the programs are effective. One study was looked at and written about by Courtney Jeremy. In Jeremy’s article “The Relationship Between Prison Education Programs and Misconduct”, Jeremy discusses an experiment that was made with a sample of inmates that tested three different education programs a prison allowed against misconduct. The experiment showed that the inmates that participated in these programs had a lower rate of misconduct. (Jeremy). The lower misconduct rate is essential to know the importance of why prison education should be a thing in all prisons in the surrounding states. Once a person is graduated and is ready for their release there has also been a lower recidivism rate among the inmates who participate in these programs. In prison education programs the recidivism rate is what determines whether they can fully operate. In other cases, these programs do not even get to start because the needed recidivism rate isn’t met. For example, in the article. “Why Aren't We Spending More on Prisoner Education?” by Steurer, Stephen, et al, the author talks about one reason why these programs would end before they started. The article stated “what was found was that the prisons with the programs get and stay their re-offend rate at 2 percent, but a RAND study that was analyzed this later came to real answer of about 13 percent”, this shows that even if a program like this would want to be started they would have to see results before it could even be established. Though this is needed for the program to stay afloat, with support from the teachers and support from the community, this would not be an issue.

The importance of prison education is the first step into understanding why these programs should get the funding they need. To start an educational institute is an expensive and complex process, but in a prison system, this also applies. The funding for prison education comes from taxpayers and over grants provided by the federal government. One reason these programs should be funded is that they can save taxpayers money. For example, in Maryland, funding a prison education program saves taxpayers around 10 thousand dollars (Chief).  By taxpayers funding mass incarceration, they can save their money and put their money toward something that will work as a real rehabilitation. If one of these programs can start sometimes the need for modern technology can also be an issue. Without the funding, the technology needed to do the schoolwork assigned would be the downfall to productivity and motivation among the inmates. 

The last reason for prison education is the is that helps them become outstanding citizens in society. Some programs have lessons on how to be a working citizen in society. These types of lessons can be taught for several reasons, but the main reason for this is to ensure that inmates have a smooth transition into society after they are released. The reason for teaching the inmates these types of courses will help shed a light on the struggle of today’s society where people must compete for jobs based on their experience and past. In other words, preparing them for society will allow them to shape society in a better way rather than being the problem in society. The only issue with this would be the inmates using what they learn against society. For example, if the inmate is taught to code a computer there could be a chance of the inmates using this skill to start hacking computers and end up back in prison for something that was taught to them. This issue could be a problem, but the faith held in the inmates allows them to realize what they must lose if they end up back in prison. 

The reason why prison education should be important to everyone is that it allows inmates to have a more positive effect on society once they are released. The individuals that participate in these programs can learn and understand how they should be in society rather than turn back to their old life. The importance of prison education should be understood by everyone, not only because it helps the inmates that participate in them better people, but because they are putting their hard-worked money into something that should be a form of rehabilitation. 

Prison education programs have shown to be effective and have shown positive results, but negative factors such as funding and dangerous work environment could also allow people not to see the beneficial components of these programs. Funding these programs could save taxpayers money by the thousands. One personal account at graduation was mentioned in the article, “The Minnesota Standard Adult Diploma: Hope and Opportunity for Inmates.”, by Brad|Kuehnel Hasskamp, and in the speech given the inmate talked about how the prison program made them feel good again and talked about how their struggles in the past caused them to not have an education back then, but this program allowed them to achieve that. (Hasskamp). The impact of prison education can be a small victory or a big victory, but support from the teachers involved and the outside community can help these programs make these achievements possible.


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