A Positive Perspective on Prison Education
Many people would agree that continuing an education is key to surviving in society. Therefore, education is very vital for every individual to maintain, regardless of how or where they obtain it. Even though people believe that education is important, many people disagree with education being taught in prison. Prison education is providing inmates with an opportunity to enhance their education. They are offered general education courses needed to attain a G. E. D, and courses they need for a higher education. Many of the inmates are high school dropouts or have an eighth grade education or less; therefore, they need to receive an education. For that reason, by educating prisoners it provides an opportunity for them to learn how to become better readers and expand their knowledge. As stated by James Vacca in his article “ Educated Prisoners are Less Likely to Return to Prison,” “their reasons for dropping out of school included a greater rate of grade retention, school transfers, misbehavior, poor attendance, and poor grades. Inmates also experienced less time in extracurricular activities and very little time with a school counselor during their time in school” (301). For many people to succeed they have to be motivated , it’s always hard to stay focused when so many obstacles are put in front of anyone. Education can reinforce goals people have, their culture beliefs, and how important education really is. Many people lose that focus when they feel that they are not meeting up to the expectation given to them, once that occurs they lose their desire to have a gratifying and productive life. Therefore, by providing prisoners opportunities for education benefits society as well as inmates because education will help them adjust to civilization, reduce inmate recidivism rates, and improve their social skills.
The idea of prison education has changed over time, it has gone from total separation to unification . Decades ago prison education was seen as merely keeping the prisoners separated from one another because they thought by keeping the prisoners together would contaminate one another and they would never be able to learn their lesson. Prison education was first implemented in 1798 and was known as “the most beneficial employment” (Williford 19). Miriam Williford’s book “Higher Education in Prisons: A contradiction in Terms?,” states by the 1820s the Pennsylvania and Auburn systems were developed, and these systems were to ensure that nothing went wrong (20). The Pennsylvania System, which was also known as the separate and silent system, kept every prisoner separate from one another and were not allowed to speak to one each other. Since the inmates were kept separated, they were given nightly sessions with the chaplain, the first prison teacher, to go over readings from the bible, along with elementary and moral education. With the Pennsylvania System, they believed keeping the prisoners separate would give them time to rethink their crimes, and eventually decided they would never commit another crime because they did not want to go through that punishment again. Many of the inmates could not read so the Pennsylvania System felt it was necessary to educate the prisoners. Due to the fact that without knowing how to read or understand anything, how would they be able to reflect on their life of crime. Although today prison does not keep inmates separate on a daily bases some inmates do experience the separate and silent treatment today, it is known as solitary confinement. Plus, just like today the prisons back then became overcrowded so the Pennsylvania system had to adjust to the amount of prisoners they had and begin housing inmates together. At the same time, the Auburn system, which was known as the congregate and silent system started to develop, and has stated that the Pennsylvania System was wrong because prisoners...
Cited: Davidson, Howard S. “Schooling in a Total Institution: Critical Perspectives on Prison
Education.” Westport, Connecticut, London, 1995
Central at Indian School Road, Phoenix Ar: Orxy Press, 1994. 5-82. Print
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