Slate has an article today about Cardinal Dolan, a man who I largely have little respect for, speaking out in favor of college courses in prison. While I might disagree with him on many, many issues, on this one I can get right up there next to the man.
This really is a no-brainer if you stop to think about it for a few minutes. Studies show time and again that people who are in prison and go through college are far less likely to reoffend and end up back in prison. They also likely get better jobs on the outside than they’d otherwise be able to, thus paying higher taxes and helping to pay down some of their financial debt to society.
If you’re against this idea, you’re an idiot, and probably should go get some schooling yourself. If you genuinely believe there are people who would get sent prison just so they could get a degree, you’re several levels of idiot. I can pretty much assure you that if that ever happens, it’s rare indeed. Very, very few people ever go to prison for the benefits they can access while there.
But if you put forth the argument that it really isn’t fair that people should be allowed to get free college while in prison when people on the outside aren’t allowed to, I’ll agree with you. That isn’t fair. The fact that someone in prison gets education for nothing while someone outside can graduate with a hundred-thousand dollars in debt sucks hard.
Of course, the solution that you, my fantasy person who is putting forth this argument, would have is that educational courses should be stopped in prison. Incorrect. What should happen instead is that everyone should be allowed free college. This would fix many problems and just possibly keep a few people from ending up in prison in the first place.
Of course we can’t afford it. No, we have to spend, as one smart person once put it, “Billions on defense, but not one cent for education.” As long as we keep thinking like that, we’ll continue to have problems that we just should not have.