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Educating Prisoners - An Unnecessary Effort

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Educating Prisoners - An Unnecessary Effort

Crime knows no bound, no race, no social status, no gender. In prisons, all criminals are criminals, whether they have committed felony, rape or assault. White-collar crimes are the same as any other crime. Still, most inmates are from the middle class and lower class of our society. However, committing crime, and what kind of crime, is still the choice of the person, whether he has attained a formal education, a higher degree of learning or not.

Still the fact remains that the scope of understanding and the extent of knowledge of white-collar crimes, being more complicated by systems and networks, require some kind of formal education, if not an extensive one. This does not mean that educated people only commit white-collar crimes. It only proves education does not mean absence of criminal behavior.

This is used to point out the argument that educating prisoners makes them smarter criminals. As they learn new ideas, concepts and theories, and how to apply their learning, educated prisoners can become intelligent criminals. Many victim rights groups view educating criminals as ignoring the victims. Security should be the top priority in correctional institutions. Education is a key to productivity, a key to a more prosperous life. Applying education in crime results in the disruption of the society. And educating prisoners does not mean productivity and a more prosperous life for them because they remain behind bars.

Germanotta (110-112) presented phases that a prisoner student passes through. The first phase is the acceptance of prison education as any other jail program like the maintenance of the institution and the recreation program. Inmates may consider prison education as an addition to their recreation program or just a break from the stressful confines of the prison cell. Anyhow, the reasons don't coincide with the purpose of education, everything is entirely for their own practical and personal reasons not in connection with the function of education. The next phase is the realization of the purpose of education, of learning. This disengages themselves from thoughts of their alienation and they discover social formations and social reality. The prisoner student, thus, begins to have a transformation of point of views and opinions, of himself. He learns and he inspires himself to learn more. However, when this phase happens, the officers transfer most of these prisoner students to a non-advanced institution resulting in a stunted growth of the prisoner student's thirst for education and learning. This then results to the third phase in the educational cycle of prisoners, their frustration regarding their newfound skills and knowledge. With the stunted growth of knowledge, the prisoner student has difficulty in quenching the need to further learn and understand. And with the newfound skills and knowledge, he aims to use this in a practical way. He proposes programs but when these programs become too successful that they need outside contact, it is abruptly cut again. The practical application is also stunted. What will the inmate then do with his skills when he is confined in a very limited space to use his skills? The skills are underutilized and furthermore the experience breeds more contempt and alienation.

But a more pressing factor for discontinuing prison education is the conditions inside the jail. An example is the lockdown, "used a security measure, a lockdown confines prisoner to their cells for an indefinite period" (Thomas 28). This disrupts the class, as the inmates are not permitted to go outside of their cells unless they are assigned maintenance of the institution. This can happen to just one group of detainees that the other groups get ahead of them in their tasks, the inmates in a lockdown are pressured to catch up with the work. Schedules of hearings and trials also disrupt the class schedules. Another condition is the jail staff and officers disrupting classes, playing a power challenge to the jail students. The officers tend to use this class interruption



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