Educational Programs In Prions

Educational Programs in Prisons
“It is not a surprise to see that prisoners all have a low education level. I guess a more educated person has enough sense not to be involved with crime…the relationship between crime and education is easy to see when viewing these facts” (Cordes 1). This is the view of most people when asked why people are in prison. People simply say that criminals were ill educated. As hard as we may try, we cannot do a lot about what happens before they enter prison, but there are many programs inside prisons to help rehabilitate them for when they leave the prison.
The New York Theological Seminary for Afro-American male prisoners (NYTS) runs a program at Sing Sing Prison that allows inmates to get their master’s degree. This program meets five times a week and has only about fourteen to sixteen men admitted every year. The program has become so popular that there is a waiting list of one or more years. The NYTS program helps these men prepare for community service. Forty-two credited hours must be completed in order to receive the degree. Students must also complete a minimum of fifteen hours of field service within the prison. Since the program was established, more than two hundred men have received their degrees. The program is offered in other prisons, and inmates are allowed to transfer to Sing Sing in order to complete the program. Everyday men and women alike challenge themselves, but none as much as those men and women living behind bars. “Freedom is a struggle that begins in one’s mind. These African American men [in Sing Sing Prison] behind bars challenge themselves daily to live as free human beings. Their courage should inspire us to do the same” (Marable 2).
There is another federal program that is called Credits for Cons. This is a program proposed by the Clinton administration. They proposed a “fifteen hundred education income tax credit” (Stanglin 1). This would allow volunteers to get the credit if they sponsored an inmate who took college courses. Many believe church members would take part in this plan, as many have done in the past to help drug addicts. Though the proposal has not yet been passed, many people have said they would be an active member in a program like this one.
North Carolina also puts great effort into their educational systems in prisons. The prisons attempt to “give adults tools to make a living so they will not return to the state’s criminal justice system” (Young 1). The prison system realizes that an immense majority of inmates will be released; we need to prepare them for outside life. Without the efforts of educational programs, a prison can become a “revolving door, with inmates having nowhere to go but back” to the prison with no future (Young 1). A majority of the states offer a GED program, but North Carolina profits from a Community College system that offers classes in academics, auto mechanics, masonry, wiring, plumbing, and computer literacy. The Community Colleges offer two-year degree programs in many areas. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers business association classes to inmates over twenty-five years of age. Because of the excellent programs they have to offer, more than five thousand of about thirty thousand inmates are in the education program and these numbers continue to grow.
“Educational programs are among the few activities individuals in federal prisons can pursue in order to bring meaning and hope to their lives” (Santos 1). Whether an inmate studies on his own using the library resources or spends forty hours in a classroom, prison walls appear “to be more permeable” (Santos 1). But many inmates cannot study on their own because of poor reading skills, or no reading skills at all. The amount of inmates able to read has gone up since Congress passed the 1994 Comprehensive Crime Control Bill. This bill said that inmates who could not pass the high school equivalency test are unable to receive time off their sentences for good behavior. Many prisoners want time off their sentences, so this motivates them to go to the GED classes, and actually pass the tests. If an inmate