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The Round Table

Prison inmates shouldn’t receive free college education


By Kara Henson
Round Table Editor-in-Chief

Should inmates receive a free college education?

With the crime rate steadily increasing in the United States, law makers are forced to put more and more citizens behind bars. FBI data from last fall show violent crimes, including murders and robberies, rose by 3.7% nationwide during the first six months of 2006.

Those findings came on top of a 2.2% crime hike in 2005 — the first increase since 2001. Although their crimes vary, each inmate is in prison for one main purpose; they have committed a felony and prison is where they can go as punishment.

Although it is in fact “prison,” the treatment they receive is nothing short of easy. With free meals, free exercise equipment, free religious services, free counseling, and free college education, prison seems ideal.

Some argue that privileges offered in county prisons are too abundant and defeat the purpose of serving one’s actual sentence, while members of the opposite belief say that these offerings are needed to keep the inmates sane.

“Education does change minds, teaches people how to think better, [and] how to find alternatives to the way they used to do things,” said Stephen Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association.

The main argument erupting in the minds of American citizens today, however, is: should inmates receive a free college education? The opinion can go either way.

For some, they feel free college education is a privilege taken way too lightly by the inmates who are receiving it. Hard-working American citizens fight everyday to be their best, striving to succeed as far as they can. Why is it fair that inmates, citizens who have committed crimes, are able to receive a college education for free?

College is not cheap, and hard-working Americans know this. The average tuition at four-year public colleges rose 6.5 percent, or $429, to $7,020 this fall, according to the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing” report. At private colleges, the average list price for a year of coursework rose 4.4 percent to $26,273.

According to recently released reports from the College Board, most students and their families can expect to pay, on average, from $172 to $1,096 more than last year for this year’s tuition and fees, depending on the type of college. One can’t simply go to college because they want to; they must earn their admission.

Inmates who have caused their families and communities harm are being given an education that they most likely take for granted. If one is in prison, chances that they are aiming to better their education while serving their time are slim.

If a murderer is convicted, does society really believe that their first thought when they arrive at their vacant jail cell will be “when does school start?” No. Counseling and help is what they really need.

If somebody is creating chaos and destruction, an education should not be their first priority to making things “better.” Those who have chosen to commit a crime have chosen to limit their opportunities and freedoms.

Providing inmates with a college education also means that tax payer money is going to said programs. Why should innocent, law-abiding citizens be forced to pay for those who have done wrong?

The professors and instructors employed at prisons are taking time out of their schedules to provide for those who have done wrong. These people are taking a risk and could be caught in serious danger if the “students” are not watched carefully.

The information and knowledge that they gain could also be used negatively. If one is in prison because of a crime that involved deep knowledge and planning, providing them with an education may only better their success rate if they choose to again commit a crime.

Another topic of concern; why should death row inmates or felons who have received a life sentence be given free education? Death row inmates can take some classes, although they are not allowed to leave their cells.

A teacher delivers instruction to the prisoner through the bars. They will not be able to use the knowledge they gain because they will always be in jail. So what’s the point?

Many continue to ask; should repeat offenders still receive a free college education? Obviously they have been given a second chance to better their lives and make things right again, but they still continue to make mistakes. Why do these felons deserve this right, when law-abiding citizens still must pay the fee for higher education?

From the other end of the spectrum, however, many will argue that education in prison is what inmates need to keep them sane and alive. Providing them with an education will offer the knowledge that they can have a successful life after prison.

Some believe that what inmates are taught in jail should be based on a personal level and that the curriculum should focus on individual effort.

On March 14, 2006, a group of educators began their work at a local prison in Worcester, Mass. The experience they gained not only gave them a great sense of self accomplishment, but allowed them to learn along with their students.

They know how to translate educere, which in this context means “enlightenment” or “to enlighten,” into a meaningful practice and thus transform education into practical knowledge, the kind that leads not only to a better job but also to a more meaningful and creative life.

”It’s rejuvenating,” said Antonio Rivera, 23, of the Cheshire Correctional Institution, who is less than halfway through a 12-year sentence for drug dealing.

Another example of schooling in prisons occurs in Hagerstown, Maryland. The prisoners, who are held at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, a medium-security facility, recently earned their Master of Theology Studies degrees through the Prison-to-Pulpit program from Covenant Theological Seminary of Tallahassee, FL, a training school that has a Maryland branch.

Personally, I believe inmates should not receive free college education while incarcerated. They have obviously committed a crime or a series of crimes, and need to be punished for their actions.

While some argue that serving “hard time” is enough punishment, I believe that, as a prisoner, they have lost every right as a free man.

If the education they were receiving was not at a collegiate level and had volunteers providing the material, it would be different. But for them to receive free college education is ridiculous.

Students work hard to gain a college education, and it is not fair that one receives it for free, especially if they do not truly want it or appreciate it. People today argue about the temptations that society must face and overcome. In these hard times, it is tough to be a well-rounded individual.

Obviously, there is no excuse for committing a crime, but there has to be somebody to blame. I truly do not understand why these criminals are given the education that hard-working men and women must compete for.

The issue of inmates receiving free college education is a touchy subject that has obviously stirred controversy. American citizens are free to believe what they feel and, as a strong-minded country, it would be difficult to change their opinions

Whether you are for or against inmates receiving free college education while incarcerated, one is entitled to their own opinion. In the words of Voltaire: “I may not agree with the words you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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  • E

    EmileeOct 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    College education should not be free to prisoners. If everyone else in the world has to figure out a way to go to college they have to do it to. Honestly the whole idea is extremely ridiculous, all we would be doing is spending more money on those idiots to enable them to get “smarter.” If they were smart in the first place they wouldn’t be in prison. Right now I am in college and I am struggling to pay for it. For god sakes if people in prison ger a free ride to college I might as well commit a crime. That way I would have a free ride too instead of working two jobs just to pay for my college.

  • C

    Captain Sandwich?Oct 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    1. Your comment is riddled with grammatical errors. I hope they’re intentional. If they’re not, then your opinion means even less to me than it did before. Hopefully you’re one of the Danish students, because this level of error is inexcusable of a native speaker.
    2. “You have people everyday making bad decisions does that mean we get to deny them human rights. The constitutes states we all have the right to a education.”
    Umm…I assume you mean the Constitution? And it doesn’t…and this isn’t about the “right” to an education, it’s about getting government assistance. Your statement here could not make less sense.
    3. “…a education…”
    If we have a right to education, why haven’t you taken advantage of it?
    4. “You can have a white male convicted of the same crime of an African American and the African American is gone away from society for 10-15 years longer”
    Cool. Baseless and irrelevant, but cool. Since you have no reference or proof of this, and to try to show some mercy on you, I’ll pretend that you’re right! But white people are given equal access to these prison aid programs…so your point is still ridiculous.
    5. “REALLY! Who determines what rehabilitation means? and what it looks like”
    The same people who have put these prisoner aid programs in place. I’m not even sure what the point of this sentence(s) is.
    6. “we have people in the world who don’t realize their are laws that has been created and but in place to convict people and give them ridicules sentencing (time)”
    Wait a second. You mean people create laws to CONVICT people of them? Not simply for fun? That’s nuts! How oppressive is our government that they create laws JUST to arrest people for breaking them!? Please give an example of these laws. I cannot imagine what they would look like. “Any citizen found to be worthy of arrest shall be arrested randomly (especially if a minority) just for the lolz.”
    7. “It is remarkable how we as citizens only have compassion when it is convenient for us”
    You’re right. We should distribute our compassion indiscriminately. Mass murderer? Well he deserves just as much charity as all the law-abiding poor people in our country! We’re all equal, except for the murderer who gets financial aid because of his troubled past (which we’re assuming he has because, as we know, nobody ever murders anybody for any reason other than their childhood).
    8. I addressed your sentences in reverse order. Sorry.
    9. “Who knows that one ex-offender could come out into society and save the life of another with what they learned”. I’m Juz SAYING!”
    Amen! Laws should be created based on what is extremely, extremely unlikely to ever happen. You have yet to explain why criminals are more deserving of aid than the financially troubled. For all you know he/she could just be some upper-middle class opportunist law-breaker who got caught. You assume that crime is exclusive to the poor and troubled, as though helping criminals = helping the poor. It doesn’t. It’s just a way for politicians to play off of people’s desire to be compassionate and unassuming for votes.
    10. Sorry. I think this was somewhat of a waste of time. There were comments more deserving of criticism than yours.

  • S

    SherettaOct 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    It is remarkable how we as citizens only have compassion when it is convenient for us. Everyone deserves an opportunity to change their life. I’m unclear here. Is financial free? Or maybe I’m ms-understanding here. Or maybe we have people in the world who don’t realize their are laws that has been created and but in place to convict people and give them ridicules sentencing (time) . You can have a white male convicted of the same crime of an African American and the African American is gone away from society for 10-15 years longer. So who gets the blame for that.? Who gets the blame when our United States constitution continues to read criminals shall be in-slaved if convicted of a crime. REALLY! Who determines what rehabilitation means? and what it looks like. You have people everyday making bad decisions does that mean we get to deny them human rights. The constitutes states we all have the right to a education. Who knows that one ex-offender could come out into society and save the life of another with what they learned”. I’m Juz SAYING!

  • B

    Big TJul 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I’m not going to tell anyone they’re wrong for not wanting a criminal who has broken the law to receive a free education, especially when a good law abiding citizen can’t afford one. I feel the same way and its natural to feel that way. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to implement some sort of payback program for those that do take classes while incarcerated. Either way there is currently empirical evidence that states people who receive education in prison have a much lower recidivism rate then those who do not. From there you can do the math.These people will be less likely to revert back to crime, they will be more marketable to employers and they will pay taxes. On the other hand if the purpose of incarceration is only punishment then they will leave prison no better then when they arrived, and in reality probably worst off. This is because people who are exposed to the negative aspects of institutional settings are forced to adapt and use the cultural norms associated with prison. When released they no longer have the ability to respond accordingly to everyday social stress or encounters. These people are then rearrested shortly there after and subsequently back in a cell with an annual price tag of about $24,000. Look at it this way prison only does its job of protecting the public while the prisoner is incarcerated. If there is any chance of them being released they should be educated, whether it be job training, schooling or whatever. The fiscal burden of not doing so will be much worst on tax payers. We already have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Maybe we ought to start fixing those people in there, especially since 90% of them will get out one day.

  • J

    JBJul 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Anyone can get an education. You can get grants, loans and scholarships. In a way we are loaning them an education that they can pay it back by becoming productive members of society. They can be educated and start their own businesses possibly, which would provide more jobs for people. Anythin is possible. I know people who are not prisoners who get grants and student loans all of the time and to go to school but I believe they have no intention on ever getting a job, just being a student for life. That’s not right. Let prisoners be educated. It’s good for us as a society and for themselves.

  • AnonymousJun 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Education education education is the ONLY method to transform crime, even in jail. There is not a living soul on this planet that would not benefit society with education. How else do people learn NOT to repeat their mistakes or ignorance.
    College is not free but we are forced to provide free everything to the inmates …why not provide less of one thing and more education. The neurons in the brain are permanently changed when a human LEARNS something.
    For example….do you know why we live longer? Why our babies survive diseases that once wiped them off the face of the earth? Education about sanitation and education about vacinations. Education that showed how bacteria was spread between people. Now people WASH their hands. A simple but effective methods to longer healthier lives. Children who come from uneducated backgrounds believe they are dumb, believe they can’t learn, believe they are not what others are, believe stealing and killing is the only way to get something in this world.
    When you give them information, their view of human life may change. Their view of the world will change. Their view of how to help themselves contribute to our society will change.

  • L

    laylaJun 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    This article is beyond bias, instead of thinking of you what the prison life is in reality the author makes it sound as if it was a great place to be. Instead of thinking for the safety of society he is worried about his wallet. When in reality if inmates dont have the oppurtity of working to achieve a higher education, they will only perfect on their criminal behavior. When a person is allowed the oppurtunity to do something better with their life and be a better member of society why is it so hard to believe that they will change their life? but if a person only knows how to sell drugs or steal cars how can they be expected to do anything else? some people need to realize that not criminals are locked up for life, they will come out once their time has been served. The question should be is what can we do to prevent people from going to jail in the first place and what can be done to deter them from returning to jail. Education is something that evryone should have access to, not just the rich and priviledged.

  • D

    DaveJun 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

    @Sandwich: in a way, people like Susan’s son do deserve special attention. If society gives up on our law-breaking citizens, then they are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes because no one is taking any initiative to help them out and improve their position in life. Poverty often leads to crime. If there’s something our gov’t can do to remedy this (college education –> stable job –> stable income –> less desire to commit crimes), then what’s the problem?

  • C

    Captain Sandwich?May 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    And meanwhile, thousands of impoverished people who have obeyed the law cannot afford those very same courses! How fair, right? Your son deserves special treatment. He did break the law, after all. Are we not going to reward him for that? What kind of backwards, fascist society would we be if we didn’t?!?!

  • S

    SusanMay 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

    my son is doing 5 years in prison. He finally became eligible to get a full time job so makes minimum wage. half of his check is taken to pay for rent; repayment of court costs; mandatory 10% savings. he does take advantage of college courses towards an AA at 1/3 of the cost due to college program, but he pays for that too. So he is slowly learning how to transfer back into society with some positives under his belt. Thank you Kansas prison system!

  • B

    Brett's wifeMay 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Stop being a try-hard hun, move out of your mom’s basement and buy us a house, you’re 37 and pathetic

  • G

    gretaMay 10, 2011 at 1:38 am

    “Although it is in fact “prison,” the treatment they receive is nothing short of easy”

    That is a common thought amongst people who know absolutely nothing about prison. There is nothing easy about it. Try doing a little research. What an absurd and ignorant thing to say.

  • H

    HarryMay 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Wow if its that simple then why doesnt everyone go to jail to get a free ride to college? Let’s see, should i try extremely hard in high school and do everything right, apply to colleges and still have to pay a boat load? No, because now all someone must do is go to jail. That’s ridiculous.

  • AnonymousApr 14, 2011 at 6:33 am


  • AnonymousApr 14, 2011 at 6:32 am


  • "

    "BEET"Mar 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Iam a senior citizen, we have not got a “cola” raise in 2 years. won’t get one next year. I worked hard all my life, was law abiding, nice to people, and showed respect to others. Our government has got “things soooooo screwed up, and the hard working, law abiding, good people are having to pick up tabs for the millions of people that have been “free-loaders” all their lives and expect the hard working tax-payers to pay their way through life. WE ARE ALL SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TIRED OF IT——-GET REAL, GET A JOB AND KEEP YOUR SELVES OUT OF PRISON . NO I DOI NOT THINK WE SHOULD BE FOOTING THE BILL FOR PRISONERS TO GET A “FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION” I PERSONALLY HAD TO STRUGGLE TO EARN MINE.

  • AnonymousFeb 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

    trina whatever have a heart if it was ur child or children you’ll feel the same way ……

  • AnonymousFeb 22, 2011 at 7:22 am

    i came to america when i was ten. I lived here for 18 yrs. i got a 3.45 with honor in mathematics and yes i have to pay for my education for the first 2 yrs. but the last two years i got grants. I feel that prisoners should get free education b/c have a heart, time is money, and wht would these people do with their time. also after receiving education they can find a better jobs when they came out. Also even if you give them free education, not many will make it if their minds, spirits, and hearts are not in there to learn. the mind has to be strong, the heart has to repent and the spirit has to be humble. Also giving them education is like giving someoen water not everyone choose to drink it but coke or alcohol. i see prisoners as brothers and sisters who need help. actually before reading this artible i was giong to creat a non profit org myself to go to prison to teach, to bring education to them, recruit more volunteer to bring education to these prisoners b/c you need to visit them. You need to understand that when war comes, we need americans who are smart and intelligence to fight a war. china, korea, russia, etc and india many doctors like a lot. 70% or more doctors in india. look at america, our young work at mcdonald etc. so give them the education. if they make it it is b/c they work hard. and what do we have to lose. some of us is rt they will pay tax. also we should always give kindness and give more. life is short. 65 yrs. by the time we done with colleges we already in our 30. just 35 more years. so what if the prisoners get free education.

  • D

    DaveFeb 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I think a lot of people are missing the point here – not the point of the original article (which is poorly written, heavily based on the writer’s emotional opinion, and mostly aims to demonize and denigrate the type of people who typically become prison inmates), but rather the point of this whole debate. It’s obviously not fair for prisoners to have opportunities and priveleges that most law-abiding citizens have to pay for (free clothing, food, shelter, medical care and sometimes yes, college education) – I don’t think anyone is disputing the fact that it’s not fair – but the reason it’s not fair isn’t because they shouldn’t have these priveleges; it’s because everyone else should have them too! If you’re jealous of the priveleges that are provided to prisoners and the citizens of many other countries, simply because they’re essential commodities (food, shelter, education, medical care), then you should really be campaigning against our government for making everyone else pay to have these things. Good enough for prisoners, good enough for the rest of us.

  • C

    Captain Sandwich?Feb 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    First off…prisoners have the right to go to school. If you think they don’t, then you probably should have figured out what you were writing about before you wrote it.

    Really? Prisoners of all people deserve free education? Not normal, law-abiding citizens? Not the impoverished or the disabled? Well…if it makes you feel safe. Though I don’t really know why prisoners being in colleges would make you feel safe, especially since you’ll be there in 6 years. It’s not as though they’re going to be locked in the college by themselves. They’re going to be around people and burglable items even more.

    I doubt you really thought about what you wrote at all. You recommend giving prisoners a high school degree because it’s learning. Getting a degree for no reason isn’t learning, it’s getting a degree for no reason. And if you’re implying that criminals can’t normally attend high school (which is a bit peculiar…) then you are just wrong.

    Also, it is not “our money” because, being in seventh grade, you probably don’t have a job, so it’s much easier for you to say that the government should pay for everything.

    Finally (s), if I had a son who was a murderer, I would not want him to get financial aid from other people for it. Or if he was a thief or an embezzler or a dog-fighting ring owner, or anything else. There are more deserving people than criminals, believe it or not.

    Finally finally (s), “Anonymous on August 24th, 2010 5:22 pm “, you don’t seem to make much sense at all. Who said they were better than your sons? And why do you think that your sons deserve to get free education over anyone else? And why are you not taking responsibility for anything? Nobody went to visit them? That means YOU didn’t go to visit them. Nobody gave a crap? That means you didn’t “gave a crap”. Yes, they’re YOUR sons. Not the government’s.

    There are many people who have had worse lives than your sons and chosen not to break the law, but won’t receive the same financial aid. What makes your children so important that they can be rewarded for breaking the law?

    And what does any of that have to do with what the article is about?

  • K

    KarissaFeb 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I say Why NOT let prisoners get free education?? I am a 7th grade and I think they should have a right to go to school! I sure do not want them out of prison running around doing what they want (like stealing,conning,killing etc………….!) Even if we give prisoners a High school level degree THAT’S LEARNING TO DO SOMETHING BETTER THAN KILLING OR COMMITTING CRIMES!!! Yes it is our money but it is an education!!!!!!! If it was your child in prison you’d want the same!!!!!

  • R

    RachelleJan 28, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    While I don’t believe that prisoners should get a free college degree I do think they should be educated to the high school level. I have a family member who abtained a law degree while in prison. Granted that he cannot become a lawer he has been able to use the knowledge obtained to avoid going back to prison and not by folling the law. The knowledge was used to find a loop-hole to get himself out of trouble.

  • B

    baltimore bailDec 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    While we’re on the subject of Prison inmates shouldn’t receive free college education : The Round Table, Surety Bond involves contacting a bail agent to arrange for a bail bond to be posted in the amount of bail. A contractual agreement and collateral in most cases are necessary to secure the bail bond.

  • J

    JoSep 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I feel as though people have mixed up many different arguments. My points are as follows: I believe that many current inmates do not belong in prison in the first place– not because people are innocent of the crime, but because some crimes just don’t warrant incarceration. I believe that inmates should have the privilege and obligation to work while in jail, to learn a trade, train in some kind of job to bolster their chances of finding work after they have served their term. The product of their labor could be used to offset the cost to the taxpayers of their incarceration. I believe that all inmates should be encouraged in any way possible (if applicable) to complete their GED/complete high school education. I believe that every inmate should have access to as much educational information as they want, so that they can study and learn about everything under the sun. I do not believe that they should be awarded a degree while incarcerated. Rather let that person learn both the necessary skills and the value of honest labor and be able to take pride in a qualification that they worked for and earned and paid for themselves, than devalue the process by giving it away free to any inmate. If they deserve a full scholarship to college, let that decision be made after they leave prison, certainly a motivating factor against recidivism. What has more value to you: something you worked hard for, that you earned on your own merit, or something given to you for free? From which is the most dignity and self respect derived?

  • M

    MiffAug 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

    To Anonymous who wrote “i have some sons in the state penn.”, what a testiment as a Mother. Hopefully your sons will receive enough training to help you when/if they are released. Please get your self together and go and see your children.

  • AnonymousAug 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    i have some sons in the state penn. there are in lock up for 9 years. and i would like to know where u get off thuinking u are better then them/they have alot of problems growing up in a household full of folks who dont seem to gave a crap.they have had noone go and see them all the while they are there.and they are my sons . no matter what they have done.i do care about them and i always have. we dont need someone like u that thinks he is god gift

  • B

    BrettJul 27, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Tina, I have to disagree with your assertion that “PRISONER’S ARE IN PRISON FOR VIOLATING OR TAKING THE TOTAL AND COMPLETE RIGHTS FROM ANOTHER PERSON!!” The violent ones, robbers, murderers, thieves did, but I did not. I was convicted of selling marijuanna and I took no ones rights.
    The money being spent to educate a child in elementary school in 2008/2009 was just a little over $10000. The money being spent to keep a prisoner in jail ranges from twice that: to 4 1/2 times: That’s your hard earned tax dollars at work.
    Let’s imagine for just a moment that the education an inmate receives in prison actually helps him stay out of prison. That’s the case with me. The government is NOT paying 10 to 30 thousand dollars a year to keep me in prison … and they can use that money for another purpose. Perhaps to upgrade the Governor’s office bathroom.
    I might be in the minority, but I cared about and valued highly the educational opportunity I was afforded. It didn’t make me a smarter criminal … it made me a smarter citizen that pays taxes. Instead of blaming “The Man” for putting me behind bars, my education showed me how I was the one that put myself behind bars. I have no interest in going back there and will do whatever I can to stay out of prison.
    Someone mentioned a statistic that over 60% of people released go back to prison with 2 years. That may be true. I submit, however, that an education earned in prison reduces that percentage by a significant amount. This URL has an interesting statistic …

    Most strikingly, the State of Texas reported the extraordinary recidivism impacts of
    postsecondary education: “[T]wo years after release, the overall recidivism rate for college
    degree holders was as low as 12%, and inversely differentiated by type of degree.” The exact
    figures indicating these inverse recidivism rates for degree recipients were: Associate’s (13.7%);
    Baccalaureate’s (5.6%); Master’s (0%).

    In other words … that 60+% recidivism rate applies to uneducated inmates. Allow a prisoner to earn an Associate’s and the rate drops to 13.7%. If they are incarcerated long enough to earn a Master’s the likelihood of their return drops to zero. Every person that stays out of prison and rejoins society like I have, earns a wage and pays taxes. Part of those tax dollars go to pay for children’s education and part goes to pay for inmate’s incarceration. I know where I would rather spend my money and it’s not on keeping people in jail

  • V

    VALERIEJul 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I agree that they should not receive free education beyond high school or GED. Its not fair for hard working people to have to struggle to send one of their family members to college. I do think that Tony has a good idea, I live in Maryland, tomake them pay for the education to let them know they are not being rewarded for their actions. They should be being molded and prepared to be able to function in the real world and learn how to obtain an education through their hard work and paying for it. I understand that life throws challenges sometimes beyond your control but just like the people that get them same kind of problems they learn to work through it and not go to jail, doesn’t get a free education or get it handed to them. They have to work hard and then they are recognized for their accomplishments. Even though prisons are supposed to be for rehabilitation it is also punishment. So beyond them receiving the basics I dont hink that they should receive free college education. They also take away jobs from people that shave been working towards their degrees for so many years and then someone that has committed a crime gets out and gets the opportunity first. I have family thats incarcerated and my views are the same. They should promote people striving to get an education when they get out and they can even help them but they should not be allowed to obtain degrees.

  • C

    Current StudentJul 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Having recently completed my freshman year in college, I am already $5000 in debt. I have three more years, if you don’t include medical school, to accumulate even more debt. From this viewpoint, I do not think that inmates should receive free education. I have never broken a law in my life, but I am going to graduate with a debt that I have to pay off while paying for my house, car, etc. Its not a matter of what is fair, but rather what is just. It is not justice that they receive free college education. They should pay for their choices to break the law.

  • G

    Grammar PoliceMay 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Come on, mindy. With that little error-filled rant, you are undermining our point that prison inmates should NOT receive an education.

  • M

    mindyMay 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

    hi, i am a high school student but i completly disagree with them recievig an education that the rest of us has to pay for or file for a grant to be abaile to reciieve. I feel that you can’t set someone up for failure! That they do this themselves when tthey make the choices that they have. If someone cared enogh then they wouldn’t have dropped out or commited the crime. they find it a privilage and want to go more than stay out.. so why offer what is drawing people to jail? I may be just a high schoo, student but it seems ridiculous for us to waste our tx dollers on this!!!!

  • U

    UnknownMay 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

    you go Tina!

  • T

    TinaApr 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I can’t believe where some of you making comments on here are coming from? I understand this is the United States of America and everyone is entitled to free speech, but really? Are you serious? PRISONER’S ARE IN PRISON FOR VIOLATING OR TAKING THE TOTAL AND COMPLETE RIGHTS FROM ANOTHER PERSON!! Should they receive a free college education while there? NO, NO NO and I say NO again! I am a hard working citizen, My husband and I both work 40+ hours a week, We have 2 children to provide for and I go to college full-time as well. Do I get college paid for me? NO, I have to pay for it myself. My son is preparing to go to college next year as well, does he get college paid for him? NO, he will have to pay for it himself.

    I am also the victim of a horrible crime, my Father was murdered by a man that was out on parole for slicing someone’s throat! Where is the justice? Why does he deserve a free college education and I & my family don’t?

    Are prisoners going to change there ways, most likely not. There are a select, and I mean a very select few that may change. That is great for them! However, there are thousands of people, good people not in prison searching for jobs everyday & can’t find or get one. When a prisoner is offered a free college education, gets out of prison and finds a job because of the education he received while in prison, what kind of a system is that? Criminals getting a job over a good upstanding non-criminal citizen & because of an education offered free while in prison?

    Prisoners should not get anything paid for, they should have to work for each and everything that they do get. They did the crime, they should PAY & serve the time. They should’nt have any rights that will better them in any way. They should suffer just as their victims have and do! An education is a privilege, not a right for a prisoner! In which, they DO NOT deserve at all!

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    PatriciaApr 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    College isn’t a right, but when people are released from prison and can’t get a job, what do they do? They go back to committing crimes (again), you go back to what you know.
    There are federal grants and scholarships for people who can’t afford it, I’m a receipient of such a program.

    If it has been proven through research and actions that you can DROP the rate of people re-entering the prison system, and DROP the amount of TAX MONEY that is being spent on housing/clothing/feeding/hospitalizing criminals and put them to work to pay the taxes back once they finish some type of higher education, why would you not want to?

    I cant see why you feel that in that case college isn’t an advantage but when our country can benefit from lower crime, better educated citizens and more people working, why wouldn’t we want to see that?

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    JohnApr 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

    You are missing the point. What if a good person “doesn’t have the same oppurtunity” as someone else? By giving criminals and people who can’t actually afford college free rides, we are punishing people who work hard and pay for college because college spots are taken up and colleges raise prices to make up for the people who are given it free. Not only that but by giving it to everyone for free, it eliminates the value of college. The value of college is to gain an education to give you an advantage in the work force, if everyone has the same advantage you might as well not go to college.

    Besides, college is not a right, period. If you can find somewhere in the Constitution where it says everyone should get free college, let me know.

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    PatriciaApr 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I’m doing some research on a speech, a study (in the 80’s) showed that prisoners who began but did not complete the college course work available at the time re re-arrested at a rate of about 44%, compared to those who attained a degree being re-arrested at 24%, that’s huge! Especially when the cost of housing, feeding and clothing an inmate for one year today in a county Hailie about 32,000 a year. I work full time -40 hrs a week and still don’t make that much. Also, I’m getting college for free through a federal pell grant but convicted felons are not eligible b/c of “tough on crime” raegan policies.
    Why shouldn’t people with a desire to learn who just didn’t have the opportunity within their community be denied the option now simply because of a bad choice? If you can give them the tools to avoid finding themselves in the same situation over and over, why not??

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    ChuckApr 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    You’re a good man Tony.

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    TONYApr 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

    To all who read this article, I am the reason that the masters of theology program that came to MCTC in Hagerstown MD . I am a former armed robber and I never believed I deserved anything free. As a matter of fact I am grateful that I live in a time of mercy, Had it been 2000 years ago, I would have been on that roman cross myself, even 100 years ago I would have been hanged so, I can express with certainty ,as a former inmate, and now living a productive, taxpaying life with a wife and 2 kids and a member of my Church for many years now, that I never felt I deserved anything but punishment. And to the saying there are innocents in prison I didn’t run into anyone trying to say that but to mention in one case a guy said he was innocent of the crime he was serving time for but guilty for others he didn’t serve time for. To get back on my point, the program was started because God had put in my Heart to first , help converted Christians that were guilty felons to be able to defend their Faith against Islam and its recruiting of inmates, nationwide problem by The way, and 2 when they went back to their communities they would be a force for good and change their communities( In Baltimore city 8 out of 10 black men go to jail once in their life). Now, that being said Covenant theological seminary of Tallahassee is NOT FREE! We held Golf tournament fundraisers and also require inmates to pay (inmates make about 28 dollars a month from duties inside prison) so they feel invested and are less likely to drop out . Also this inhibits lazy inmates from undertaking something because its free then realizing its hard work to get that degree. The reason felons go back to jail is they have no credentials for a job, we wanted them to have some so they can take their place as ministers and pastors in a Church community that has mostly women in these positions(most black men in Baltimore city are in jail). I hope Kara reads this and hears that I do believe that when I committed my crimes I deserved to lose “every right as a free man”. I deserved it then, I live with it now. I cant vote, I cant own a gun, I cant get a good govt job. I’m a carpenter, I make poverty level wages. And I am grateful that I have this second chance.


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    barneyApr 9, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I don’t really agree with this article. Its based to much on the naive stereotypes of prison. Stereotypes such as every man in prison is guilty, they get everything for free, ect.. First off, educating criminals is probably more beneficial to the safety of them and others, making them educated is better than leaving them as violent apes. Let’s say a man who has been in prison twenty years has just been released. He has nothing. No money. No friends, nowhere to live. He’ll end back up in jail in less than 2 years. Give him an education, maybe it won’t end up like that. Not every man in prison is guilty, that’s just a sad fact. The justice system is not perfect and never can be. So unless you have been in those shoes, you could not possibly understand how important thing like an education can become to a man. Also, to be fair, if an inmate doesn’t want an education, i don’t think they would force it upon them. It is probably only going to be given to those who want it.

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    ChuckApr 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I’m sorry Julian, you’re wrong. First off, I never used the word fair, so if you’re referring to me, you’re misquoting. Anyway, my comment is completely logical… people shouldn’t be rewarded for a crime, therefore, people in prison shouldn’t get free education.

    “Logically, if inmates do earn a college degree, it helps us benefit in the long run, because we wont have to spend more money sending them back to prison. Second they will also help by paying taxes.”

    This isn’t logical, its not logical to assume a convicted criminal will automatically become a normal citizen. About 62% of people arrested will be arrested again. So you really believe that as soon as they get an education their ways will change? But again, you shouldn’t be rewarded for committing a crime.

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    julianApr 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I disagree with you. To say it isnt “fair” is based on emotion. Logically, if inmates do earn a college degree, it helps us benefit in the long run, because we wont have to spend more money sending them back to prison. Second they will also help by paying taxes.

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    ChuckMar 26, 2010 at 11:07 am

    There are good people who haven’t ever been arrested who can’t afford to go to college, why should inmates get something law abiding people don’t [for free]? Law abiding citizens shouldn’t even get a free ride to college from the government anyway. You have to think things through logically and don’t base your decisions off of your emotions.

    This is a good article.

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    AngieMar 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I completely disagree with you. The American justice system is supposed to focus on rehabilitation and not be a penal system. I DO think there must be more therapy in prisons, but I also think there must be an opportunity to get an education or else you are setting these offenders up to fail when they are released from prison. As most individuals know, you must have a college degree to get anywhere in America these days. If offenders are released from prison and try to find a job with their criminal history, lack of recent experience, and no education they are not very likely to find a decent job, that is if they find a job at all. They leave the prison with nothing, you have to give them the foot hold of an education if they want it.

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Prison inmates shouldn’t receive free college education