Should prisoners be able to get a college or university degree while in prison?

Canada
April 6, 2009 8:18pm CST
THis is a question that Im not sure I really have an answer for yet. I was adding up the cost it would have been for my daughter to attend university a few years back. It was between $15000-$20,000 a year. Then I read a story about a prisoner being paroled who had taken a university degree in prison. Everyone was so proud of him..and that is great but....does that mean my daughter should have committed a crime to get a free education?...What do you think?
9 people like this
27 responses
@apples99 (6564)
• United States
7 Apr 09
Well I feel that it depends on the severity of the prisoner's crimes, if a prisoner has not committed a serious crime such as murder or other crimes in that category and if he or she has the possibility of being paroled and reintegrated in to society then it might be helpful for them to change there lives and become better people by receiving some kind of education, because how can they get work or do anything useful in the work force without a decent education. But I dont think its a good idea for people who are spending life without the possibility of prole to be allowed the privilege of a degree becuse they will never be released into society and of course in there case thats a good thing, that they will not be paroled, but I think for those prisoners who may only be spending a year or two or a little longer and they will be getting out then it its not a bad idea for them to further there education.
1 person likes this
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Hi apples...Yup I agree with helping those who have a chance of being decent citizens..There are some who make mistakes and learn by them. In this case, I think social skills, job finding skills and perhaps a trade or basic skills so they can find a job to pay for university like the rest of us have to do. But in order to get a university degree, that person would have been in there for something serious for a length of time in order to complete university. I think thats going too far.
1 person likes this
@cher913 (25902)
• Canada
7 Apr 09
after they have committed a crime, all their benefits should stop including the right to vote. this should include getting a college degree. i dont think it is fair for someone to work hard to save money to get a degree while someone who has broke the law gets one for free.
1 person likes this
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Thats what frustrated my daughter so much. She wanted dearly to go to University which is deathly expensive here in canada. Then she read how this man got in for free. It would be discouraging. I believe in giving them social skills which they may lack thus the reason they were in trouble in the first place, and for those who have some hope, I think some training in how to find jobs and some basic training so they can go find a job and pay for university like the rest of us have to
1 person likes this
@GhostCat (313)
• United States
8 Apr 09
I understand that it can be very disheartening that prisoners get a free education at "university". I also imagine, I don't have research on the numbers, that there are not a lot of prisoners who are actually completing the university degree program. It is not pleasant for prisoners who want to continue their education (most of them have to complete high school first. After completing their high school requirements, they must be on their best behavior which can be difficult while one is in prison. They frequently are not in the most congenial environment and it is easy for them to break the rules, just trying to keep themselves from harm from other prisoners. Then they are allowed to take courses. Frequently they cannot actually attend the class, mostly this is done via mail. They must study in a very noisy and unfriendly environment (most prisoners don't appreciate educational opportunities or the prisoners who use those opportunities. The prisoner usually has no other students to interact with and frequently the only support they get if from the facilitator of the educational program. The prisoner frequently is not able to take a full load thus even tough he/she is getting a free education, they must take at least twice as long to finish their degree. Besides their studies the prisoner will have other duties that must attend to. Also, they are not allowed to study all night. Lights out is lights out. They have no control over there life. They must get up when the prison staff tell them to, they eat when they are told and usually have less than 15 minutes (or maybe less), and sometimes they must fight with other inmates to get their alloted meal. There are set times to do everything. A prisoners time is not their own. These prisoners not only are unable to interact with other students, have limited access to library books, very limited access to the internet (some times this is not allowed at all). I can't imagine anyone really wanting to attend University in this matter. There are a lot of downers to this education as well as having a prison record for the remainder of hteir life. I am really sorry if it is disconcerting that your tax dollars are pay for a few very dedicated prisoners to get the university degree. The few prisoners that are getting University degrees are really amazing people. And they will be helpful to society in that they are unlikely to re-offend. They will undoubtedly find a job, not as good as other people with a University degree and will work diligently at the low pay and be gainfully employed and pay taxes for the rest of his/her work life. They may even be a little resentful because being let out of prison does not necsaarily release them from all restrictions. Depending on the conditions of their release, the type of their offense, etc. Just a student of criminal justice. And I want to remind everyone that being in prison is no picnic. And educating the few prisoners who will accept it. It not only keeps them busy and not plotting to take over the prison, but it makes them productive citizens when they are release. And very few prisons are not released. Isn't it better to have them gainfully employed to returning to prioson again and again. It's your tax dollars and it is a choice you can make. (Assuming you live in a democracy-few countries that are not democracies of one kind or another, offer education to their prisoners.) Cheers (I know Ive been rambling). Good luck to your daughter in her future endevors and I hope that she is able to put her costly education to good use.
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Hi ghostcat, First of all I really appreciate heartfelt answers and the detail in your thought. I know that what you are saying is absolutely true reguarding the conditions and what they must endure while incarcerated. But then again, that was a choice they made at the time of whatever they did to get there. Its part of their responsibility for their actions. Maybe if more people were aware of the conditions in prisons, some, but not all, would think twice. I totally agree with helping those who are interested and have a good chance of being rehabilitated. Afterall, people do make mistakes and yes we dont want to have to pay for them twice. But I think a University degree is overdoing, no matter how hard they have to work to get it. Obviously, if they are in there long enough to accomplish the degree, then they were there for something serious in the first place. I think their time in prison before release would be better spent, teaching social skills, life skills, job finding skills and basic courses so that they are able to have the skills needed to actively seek employment to pay for university like the rest of us do. To say the ones who get a university degree are amazing is true in a sense, but what they did to get there wasnt so amazing. Its the fact that they achieved it through adverse conditions is what makes it special. I know that in prisons here, they have work programs for those who are low risk and eligable, working outside of prison. If even a portion of this money was taken to pay for their education, I would feel better with that. I feel they need to learn to live and earn things as anyone else and not have it given to them. Thanks for your response and feel free to "ramble" any time..
@GhostCat (313)
• United States
10 Apr 09
I don't know about the policies where live, but in many states in the US, inmates who are able to work are expected to pay for at least part if not all of the cost of thier incarceration. I am also certain, that if there is any left over (the allow them a small amount for buying things from an inhouse canteen), they would probably be asked to pay for part of their training. Also, inmates are not allowed to take college courses unless they have already masstered such life skills as getting along with others, how to apply for jobs, many would have already learned whatever trades are offered to them. Also any students who are taking college courses are required to apply for scholarships any other type of financial support. Governments do not gladly pay for anything if they can get someone else to do so. hh Also, I am gusessing that the money your daughter paid for her education included a buch of stuff the prisoners would probably not be charged for. Such as student fees (as the inmates are not able to make use of any of the amenities that the student fees cover) and the cost of housing (of course this is slready being paid by the state). I still think that they few inmates who are able to use this benefit should be allowed to take advantage of it. I know there are a number of things that are tax dollars are used for that are quite annoying. We can't agree with all of the choise the govermnet makes in terms of spending our tax dollars. It wouldn't really be a democracy if you could agree with everything your government did. Cheers
@iskayz (5426)
• Philippines
7 Apr 09
Hi there! Definitely not. There's no need for your daughter to go to prison to get free education. Schools offers scholarship programs. The requirement I think is for your daughter to take an examination, like an application. If she qualifies then she could get free education. Maybe you can also ask help from the government or agency concerned with education. But I think she still needs to take some kind of examination and maybe you will also be investigated to see if you can't afford to give your daughter a good education. Hope that helps. Ciao!
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi iskayz..Here in canada, a university education is extremely expensive..approximately $20,000 per year...each year...and most degrees require around 4 years depending on what you are taking. The government here does not pay for that. There are partial scholarships that you can get if they were earned. In my daughters case, she had been out of school after graduating and wanted to return to go to University. She wrote a test and was accepted. But theres nothing free for her. Our government does have student loans but thats a lot of money to repay..over 4 years you are looking at $80,000. Thats a lot.
1 person likes this
@iskayz (5426)
• Philippines
8 Apr 09
Oh I see.. Well that's kinda sad. I guess it's true why a lot of foreigners are coming here in my country to study. Some I knew did say that education abroad is really expensive. I think it is unfair for your government not to offer scholarships for students. My country isn't a rich country. In fact we have lots of debts but still government helps those who can't afford to go to school. Knowing about this, I think the prisoner has no right to get free education at all.It would be unfair for those who have no criminal record not to receive the same attention.
@rsa101 (13344)
• Philippines
7 Apr 09
Well just think of it that he truly transformed himself as a good citizen. If he was not in jail I do not think he would every think of getting an education fro himself but continue to become a criminal himself. That is why he was applauded for being so. In your case, your daughter is already a good citizen and need not have to become bad just for the free education. And getting education by your own effort is a worthwhile endeavor than having it inside the jail. I am pretty sure your daughter had not wasted some time while the prisoner did have lose so many precious time already and getting the free education is just to redeem himself from the lost time he has wasted in life.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi there..you do bring up a good point. He probably wouldnt have transformed himself but he did so at the expense of others. I think a degree is going too far. I do agree with giving him some social skills and basic skills to integrate himself back into society and skills to seek employment so he can pay for University like everyone else does. Thanks for your response
@rsa101 (13344)
• Philippines
8 Apr 09
Well I think we just give them the best benefit for them to reform themselves. I guess if he were release back into our society his degree might help him but his records would be a taint he would carry all his life outside. I think you should not be too concerned about it because if he were not given that opportunity I guess he could not afford having it outside jail. Do you think universities would accept him if he has a jail time record on. I don't think so, don't be so hard on them. The degree they earned inside is far from different from the degree your daughter got. Your daughter does have a far better chance of getting a good job than him.
@ANTIQUELADY (36494)
• United States
7 Apr 09
no!! i don't think they should be allowed to do that. i think they should have to work at hard labor all day every day. they go in after doing horrible things & are treated like they are guest at a hotel. they live alot better than alot of good citizens are able to do.i think it's ridiculous that they are treated as guests instead of the heathrens that they are. i don't feel sorry for them they have broken the law. you know your tax dollars are paying for them to do that while your daughter & other deserving kids are left out in the cold when it comes to sending them to college.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
I know and I think thats the part that bothers me. Our tax money paying for something my own cant have who are good citizens. I can understand offering to those who show sincerity, courses in social skills and job searching or even some courses to help integrate them back into society. But a University degree??...He was obviously in there a long time for something serious to be able to take that long a program.
1 person likes this
@ktosea (2027)
• China
7 Apr 09
woo.good point.I have never thought about this.the cost is really large to attend university in your country,but I don't think criminals should get the education for free,they should do something to pay for the tuition
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi ktosea...yes its very expensive here to go to university..When my daughter read that, she was so discouraged. I know they also have work programs in prison which are fine...But I do agree that giving away university is a bit much..They should have to pay somehow or give them a trade in something they are interested in that would be much cheaper
1 person likes this
@ktosea (2027)
• China
7 Apr 09
yeah,but no matter how expensive,we still have to send our children to college and finish their education,it's really a tough thing for many parents.my parents also suffers a lot for my education and I will always grateful to them
@barehugs (8992)
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Yes I'd recommend that she begin by robbing a bank. If she is smart, and lucky, she might be able to steal enough to put herself through University. Failing that, if she gets caught, then she gets a free education in Prison. Now what could be easier than that? Life has a way of working out for everyone!
• Canada
7 Apr 09
It sure seems to..and to think that people actually do committ crimes for the free shelter..
@DCMerkle (1281)
• United States
8 Apr 09
sandymay48, That's one of those questions that are "darned if you do and darned if you don't". Tax payers are either complaining that prisoners are lolling around on our dime and doing nothing but getting "2 hots and a cot", so why don't we train them to become productive members of society? Then if they are trained in either a blue collar or white collar job, tax payers are complaining that they have no right to be getting training. There's only so many hallways that can be swept or mopped while in jail. So, to give them a chance to become productive members of society, some are given the chance to get a college degree. Granted in some cases it's a wasted effort because they end up back in jail and back on our dime, but what do you think the cost would be if a prisoner just served the time, was let out of jail with no training of any kind would be? DCMerkle
• Canada
8 Apr 09
What you said is very true..a catch 22 situation. However, I beleive that the ones that do have hope of being rehabilitated, should be given social skills, job finding skills, and basic courses so they can enter the work force to pay for university like the rest of us do. I dont believe in the total paid for university
@uicbear (1903)
• United States
7 Apr 09
Well, I think you should also consider that hopefully this inmate and any other that receives a degree will be able to find employment, make a decent living and be a productive member of society. As opossed to an inmate that doesn't get an education and just a prison record who will find it extremely difficult to make a living wage and who has a high probability of ending up back in prison, where more money will be spent on keeping him there not accomplishing anything. I wish I could quote you some numbers on how much it takes to house and feed an inmate in a federal prison for say, a year, but I think 15-20K to keep someone out and give them a new life is reasonable. I would however like to see some statics on how successful these type of programs are.
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Hi uicbear...That was 15- 20 thousand per year for university here. I am not against helping the inmates who have a chance of being rehabilitated. I think it should be in the form of social skills, job finding skills, and some trade or basic training so they will be able to find a job to pay for their own university like we would have to do. I dont believe in totally supporting them with a university degree. They need to learn to be responsible for their actions and not have everything handed to them.
• United States
7 Apr 09
I think that is better than to leave them in prison with out doing nothing productive, i think when people are educated it changes completly the way they see things and also it gives them more chances to get jobs once they come out of prison wich means they will have a legit way to sustain themselves and wont have to go back to crime. I think is a very good thing.
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Hi claudiamac..I agree that the ones who can be rehabilitated should be offered skills to help them out. Things like social skills, job finding skills, and basic trade or computer skills. Just enough to help them secure employment so when they get out, they can pay for university like the rest of us. I dont believe in giving them the silver platter complete with a uni degree. I think they need to learn to be responsible and understand they have to work to achieve their dreams.
@krajibg (11944)
• Guwahati, India
7 Apr 09
Hnnnnn, what to writeSurely a person in prison can obtain degrees even here in India but serpent tempered me should kill some one and be there for some years and come out? nope, not my nature. well then.... Come on I have got lots of money to get that degree and why should I unnecessarily kill some body.
• Canada
8 Apr 09
Hi Rajib..by all means you shouldnt do that. Here in Canada, university is extremely expensive, ranging around $20,000 for each year spent. My daughter was just annoyed when she saw this prisoner was given a university degree while in prison, for free, and she would have to pay through the nose for hers. I think we spend enough as taxpayers to feed them while they are in prison. I do agree with giving them courses in social skills and basic courses so that when they are integrated back in society, they will have skills to find jobs so they can pay for university like everyone else does. I also dont mind giving them training in less expensive trades like in community college providing they work to pay for it. I know for a fact, that prisons here have work programs where the prisoners of least risk can work on the outside. These I dont mind getting some benefits to return them to society, less likely to reoffend. But a university degree??? No way, unless they have a rich relative paying for it for them.
@rebelmel (1386)
• United States
7 Apr 09
I think it is great that prisoners want to do something with themselves and get a proper education, but it hurts me to hear this, because I cannot afford to go to school. Should I rob a bank, then get a free education? Seriously, the education program on this planet is absurd. I think that if they want to get an education while in prison, they should have to agree to take out loans. They have small jobs in prison, those could go towards the loans. Obviously I don't mean that the prisoners should be enrolled in a university with thousands of dollars spent on tuition, but there are community college courses that are like 300 dollars a piece (which I still can not afford at this time in my life) but while working a few hours each night and not paying for food and shelter, these inmates can actually prove themselfs while working for an education.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi rebelmel...You have the closest opinion to that of my own so far. I beleive in everything you said. I think giving them social skills and then having work programs to make them work to pay for their education is sending the right message. Not free education. I dont mind free social skills and small courses to help out so they will stayed on track.
@prinzcy (3068)
• Malaysia
7 Apr 09
I think education can keep them busy in prison. That way they'll stay out of fight. Besides, I think they will feel that they worth more than just prisoners and will influence them to look forward of something more in their life.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
What you say is true, but its us the tax payers who pay for it all. I believe in keeping them busy yes and offering skills in social skills, job finding skills, and even courses to give them a start. After they have the basic skills, I think they should have to work and pay for uni like the rest of us.
@angemac23 (2007)
• Canada
7 Apr 09
I think prisoners should only be allowed to receive education based on two things. First of all, if I were to go get an education, I would have to pay for it and I am a good citizen who does not commit crimes so that being said, prisoners should have to pay for their education as well! Secondly, it would depend on the crime.....I don't think murderers and rapists deserve any kind of special treatment. Petty criminals on the other hand deserve a second chance....
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi angemac..yes I agree. And I think that if they can pay for it then fine. But if not, then I think basic social skills, job hunting skills and maybe basic courses to allow them to earn their own employment when they get out, so they can then pay for their own uni like the rest of us.
@overhere (517)
• United States
7 Apr 09
Perhaps we are coming at this from the wrong side. Is it fair that your child has too pay so much for a decent education? As far as the prison inmate is concerned I am a great believer that it is the loss of liberty that is the punishment and that prison should offer some form of rehabilitation that enables a person to reform and become a functioning memeber of society. It would be fair to assume that a prisoner who achieved a degree and therefore better job would become a higher paying tax payer so one would in effect get greater recompense to society by greater tax payments after realease (assuming a former criminal could get a job). A degree is not just a case of participation and I think if the criminal makes the effort to obtain a degree he should be assisted not hindered. As for your daughter I personally believe the cost of a degree should be reduced or funded any investment by society in a persons education reaps vast rewards in the long run for that society. It would be why I strongly supported Obama's platform of education for community service.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi there...or no its overhere.. You bring up some very good points. I think the cost of University here is really ridiculous. I also believe in some type of rehab to integrate the person back into society and be productive. But I think what they should get, is basic social skills, job finding strategies, even courses, to allow them to find employment to pay for their own university like the rest of us do. Or even offer the program in prison, if theres someone willing to pay for it.
@kasamb (29)
• Pakistan
7 Apr 09
people in jail was forced to do fatigue. this fatigue may be in form of constructing wall, cleaning any area, planting etc and so on. when these people leave jail premises govt gave them some amount to settle down and adjust themselves in their lives. if charges were deduced from that amount it is seperate case.other then this we aslo have to look into the age of crimner. otherwise i personnaly think that if a person is turned into useful member of society it is no harm in it.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi kasamb..I really think that if a person can be turned into a useful member of society , it can be done without a costly university degree. To me, $20,000 a year,,,is a high award for being a criminal. I do believe in giving them social skills training and basic skills and courses to help secure employment when they are out. After they get employment, they can then pay for university like everyone else does.
@Lindalinda (4118)
• Canada
7 Apr 09
I don't think your daughter should have committed a crime to get a so-called "free" college education. Look at it this way. We all pay for the upkeep of prisons and to feed the prison population and educate them . It is a waste of human capital to deny those prisoners who have the ability and motivation to aspire to a higher education because we would not do society any good. Providing of course the prisoners are suitable. I don't think a mass murderer should or would obtain a degree in prison. Those prisoners who are able to obtain an education in prison are not likely to re-offend thus saving us money, but they also can relate to people on the brink of offending, in particular young people and can serve as role models for those in danger of committing a crime that will land them in prison.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Hi Linda...That was just her reaction as she was angry when she read that. I do have to agree that I dont agree with a University degree. We do pay for enough as it is for their mistakes. I do agree with giving them social skills, and basic employment skills or courses so they can reintegrate back into society and get a job so they can pay for university like the rest of us have to.
• United States
7 Apr 09
I think that this is horrible. what is it saying to the youth in our country? That it is better to commit a crime and then you do not have to pay for college. This story really bothers me because I am a college student. Going to school full time does not really allow me to work. Neither of my parents make a large amount of money per year either. I get really good grades in school, and still no help from the government. I think that this is wrong.
• Canada
7 Apr 09
Yes, my daughter really took offense to it too. All the time she wanted to be a teacher and it was so expensive to go to university that she couldnt afford it. I guess its helpful to give prisoners an education so they wont reoffend, but really, do they need university? How about some basic social skills and how to prepare for entering the work world.
@blue65packer (11836)
• United States
7 Apr 09
I don't think that is right! We the tax payers are paying for prisoners educations! While like you are paying out you hard earned money to send you daughter through college! Not is not fare and the law should be changed! No prisoner should go to school for free! Let the parents of the prisoners or charity groups or churchers pay a prisoner education! This is my thought!
• Canada
7 Apr 09
I do think giving a university degree is going too far. I think maybe and only if they are disserving, that they should be taught social skills and basic skills to integrate them back into the work force so they can work like the rest of us to pay for their own university