Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Educational Funding in Prisons

Funding for educational programs in prisons has almost been completely demolished. According to an article by Gillian Granoff, “In 1994 the government issued a federal crime bill, which made inmates ineligible to receive Pell Grants that had provided scholarships for prisoners to earn a bachelors degree while incarcerated.” Furthermore, in terms of spending, “Funding for prison college programs were eliminated, leading to the closing of some 350 such programs nationwide. Many states, including New York, barred inmates from taking college extension courses. Even secondary education programs suffered.” My question is then, why are we cutting funding and making it nearly impossible for inmates to get an education when our justice system is supposed to be (at least somewhat) about rehabilitation? It does not seem as though these new policies are in correlation with the values that the judicial system was based upon.

Researchers have even found that keeping a prisoner in jail for one year instead of sending that person to college is ten times more costly. So, if it is not about the money then why not implement educational programs in prisons? My theory is that the judicial system is no longer concerned with rehabilitation or even with the rights or well being of inmates.

Because the judicial system is terrified of this image being spread, some people in defense of the system have come up with five ways in which universities and prisons will be linked to “improve the education of inmates.” These include book drives for inmates, GED tutoring program, and some actual college level courses. Although Gillian Granoff views these programs in an extremely positive light and as a huge accomplishment I would beg to differ. Yes these programs are probably great however; there are only five of them! We have over 1,200 prisons in the United States and Gillian Granoff can only come up with five higher learning programs for these approximately two million people? Something is wrong, this cannot be a good thing and I would highly suggest that she and the readers of this article think critically about the right to education.



Ahma Daeus said...

A “SINGLE VOICE PROJECT” is the official name of the petition sponsored by: The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP)


The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) is a grass roots organization driven by a single objective. We want the United States government to reclaim sole authority for state and federal prisons on US soil.
We want the United States Congress to immediately rescind all state and federal contracts that permit private prisons “for profit” to exist in the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction. We understand that the problems that currently plague our government, its criminal justice system and in particular, the state & federal bureau of prisons (and most correctional and rehabilitation facilities) are massive. However, it is our solemn belief that the solutions for prison reform will remain unattainable and virtually impossible as long as private prisons for profit are permitted to operate in America.

Prior to the past month, and the fiasco of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers, and now the “Big Three” American Automobile manufacturers, the NPSCTAPP has always felt compelled to highlight the “moral Bottom line” when it comes to corrections and privatization. Although, we remain confounded by the reality that our government has allowed our justice system to be operated by private interests. The NPSCTAPP philosophy has always been “justice” should not be for sale at any price. It is our belief that the inherent and most fundamental responsibility of the criminal justice system should not be shirked, or “jobbed-out.” This is not the same as privatizing the post office or some trash pick up service in the community. There has to be a loss of meaning and purpose when an inmate looks at a guard’s uniform and instead of seeing an emblem that reads State Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons, he sees one that says: “Atlas Prison Corporation.”

Let’s assume that the real danger of privatization is not some innate inhumanity on the part of its practitioners but rather the added financial incentives that reward inhumanity. The same logic that motivates companies to operate prisons more efficiently also encourages them to cut corners at the expense of workers, prisoners and the public. Every penny they do not spend on food, medical care or training for guards is a dime they can pocket. What happens when the pennies pocketed are not enough for the shareholders? Who will bailout the private prison industry when they hold the government and the American people hostage with the threat of financial failure…“bankruptcy?” What was unimaginable a month ago merits serious consideration today. State and Federal prison programs originate from government design, and therefore, need to be maintained by the government. It’s time to restore the principles and the vacated promise of our judicial system.

John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is while the sun is shinning”. Well the sun may not be shinning but, it’s not a bad time to begin repair on a dangerous roof that is certain to fall…. because, “Incarcerating people for profit is, in a word WRONG”

There is an urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of cynicism, indifference, apathy and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope.
It is our hope that you will support the NPSCTAPP with a show of solidarity by signing our petition. We intend to assemble a collection of one million signatures, which will subsequently be attached to a proposition for consideration. This proposition will be presented to both, the Speaker Of The House Of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi) and the United States Congress.

Please Help Us. We Need Your Support. Help Us Spread The Word About This Monumental And Courageous Challenge To Create Positive Change. Place The Link To The Petition On Your Website! Pass It On!

The SINGLE VOICE PETITION and the effort to abolish private “for profit” prisons is the sole intent of NPSCTAPP. Our project does not contain any additional agendas. We have no solutions or suggestions regarding prison reform. However, we are unyielding in our belief that the answers to the many problems which currently plague this nation’s criminal justice system and its penal system in particular, cannot and will not be found within or assisted by the private “for profit” prison business. The private “for profit” prison business has a strangle hold on our criminal justice system. Its vice like grip continues to choke the possibility of justice, fairness, and responsibility from both state and federal systems.
These new slave plantations are not the answer!

For more information please call 415.420.3891 or visit: or email:
To sign the petition please visit:


William Thomas
National Community Outreach Facilitator
The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons
P.O. Box 156423
San Francisco, California 94115

Samantha Loen said...

This post is pretty relevant to the blog on prison and slavery. Quite honestly, it is yet another way to oppress the black community of our country. The judicial system in this country is so corrupt. They are not interested in rehabilitating anyone, they want to lock them up and throw away the key. They would rather pretend they dont exist. The interesting thing about all of this is that people argue that many of the prisoners are no good and as soon as they are let out they will just committ more crime!! Well of course they committ more crime!! What choice do we give them?!?! By throwing them in prison and tagging them with a felony we take away their ability to get a high paying respectable job when they get out and we refuse to educate them so as not to give them an advantage that way either!! So let me get this straight.... we dont want to educate them, we dont really want them to work with our companies, and we are angry that they turn to crime for survival. What does the government expect?!?! Seriously!!

ledholm said...

There has to be a better way to implement educational programs in prisons, but I understand where people are coming from who don't want tax dollars going to felons to get an education when there are people outside of prisons who can't afford to get a college education either. Perhaps finding a way to use the money it costs to incarcerate prisoners to send them to college, and with the surplus use that for more pell grants, etc.?

Rachel said...

I think education in prisons is extremely important. If people in prisons get an education while incarcerated, it is less likely that they will offend again once they get out. So it does not make sense to me not to fund education in prisons. Isn't rehabilitaiton better? It is better than someone getting out, and then going right back in. If you want to look at it from a monetary perspective, it costs more to keep incarcerating someone than to educate them, so it just makes sense to fund education.


Its worth all possible effort to fund education programs in prisons. In fact here at YWCA-Uganda we are urgently looking for funders for our prisons education and training program.

Nalubaale Rosgegrace
YWCA - Uganda