By Christopher Zoukis Slowly, but surely, it feels like change is coming when it comes to prison education. Certainly many days it can feel like an uphill battle, but that’s why it’s so important to enjoy stories like these. TenRead More
I hated haircuts and going to school when I was a child. I made straight “F”s in the public school system and eventually dropped out because I kept getting expelled for disruptive behavior. I thought I was dumb because of my straight F average. Now I feel the low self-opinion came from the negative criticism I received regularly. Anyway, things change. Today I cut my own hair and wear it relatively short, and regret that I used to be disruptive and disobedient and hated school. I value the education I have since obtained.
At fifteen-years-old, on the second day of school (I had skipped the first day), the principal expelled me for the remainder of the school year for throwing a book at a teacher. I was already on Aftercare/Probation because I had served time at the Youth Development Center in Augusta, Georgia for drug charges and stealing a car, so the court made me go to school at the Juvenile Detention Center in Clayton County. I was the only one in the class the teacher allowed to listen to music while doing class assignments. He let me use headphones to listen to vinyl records on what would now be viewed as an ancient record player. He also let me work at my own pace. I excelled in all areas of study, but when I returned to the public arena, I succeeded only in getting expelled again for the rest of the year. A teacher caught me coming out of the girls’ bathroom, where I had been inside smoking with a wannabe-girlfriend. He reached to grasp my arm and I yanked away and used several expletives to tell him to keep his hands off of me, which he did due to his fear of being assaulted. After that, I gave up on the school scene and stopped trying, which ultimately lead to me getting my education in the prison system–not a wise choice.
By Todd Peterson
Give prisoners jobs! Real, honest-to-goodness jobs. Jobs other than the menial tasks we associate with prison life: serving food in the mess hall, doing laundry, scrubbing pigeon waste off the sidewalk. Jobs in career fields that can lead to viable employment after release.
At a time when the economy is in a downturn and many are struggling to make ends meet, concern regarding the employment of prisoners may seem somewhat dubious, if not downright crazy. However, if we are to lower recidivism rates – and truly rehabilitate prisoners – inmate employment is exactly what is needed.
Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done. For 208,118  men and women in the United States, as of 2009, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is the adult – albeit more severe – equivalent of this child’s punishment.
Even a short prison sentence offers plenty of time for reflection. Although our past misdeeds should never be fully forgotten, after the first few days or perhaps weeks, of a sentence, even the most recalcitrant prisoner must move on and find a way to “do their time.” This is simply the healthy thing to do.