Education vs. Prison

It’s true that a vast and an increasing number of our jobs are being allowed to flee to countries where the people will work for far less, no vacations, health care, retirement benefits. It is true that as a result, prisons have become perhaps our greatest source of work in regions of the country so that people hold onto the idea of incarceration, putting people in cages as a proper response to crime. It is true that in a culture of retaliatory rage, our politicians, and their appointees have removed education from the time spent in prison. Looking at prison history, offering education is associated with a significant reduction in subsequent incarceration due to crime. Why would we want to keep the prisoner population high?

Let us look at it from a different viewpoint. Do you have any idea of the cost of yearly incarceration? Take a step back and hold your head in horror. It costs about 65 thousand dollars. Can you imagine? I think that the annual cost of attending Harvard now is 65 thousand give or take a few.

What if instead of building and filling prisons, we make tax-funded colleges free – no lifetime of indentured servitude to pay college debt for those brave enough to attend? What if instead of incarceration, every person who breaks the law, is required to get some form of psychotherapy to recover from a desperate, hopeless, rejecting and frequently violent childhood? Step two is to attend a free school, college or speciality program to learn a trade. These schools will help the law-breaker to gain a certificate, a Masters a doctorate to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, educators, social worker, car repair experts, plumbers, green technology practitioners?

What if instead of locking people up in tiny cages which breed violence and hopelessness, we give them a future? The society would have new jobs again, a productive economy and a happier population. Would people no longer be automatic enemies due to the haves versus the have-nots? Is there anything which argues against this approach except for a way to control the voting population due to a “fear of crime?”

We do not want to be controlled by fear. We do not want to become a member of the “haves” because of our fear of being a “have-not.” We do not want to be part of a society which sets people against each other by labeling one as bad and the other good.

How do we get such a position known? Can we convince those who take the job of politician that we are more likely to elect or re-elect them if they propose a culture of education and not one that is “tough on crime.”

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