Beyond Prison is a Carol Estes’ article written for Yes Magazine in 2011. This article argues the points of convicts getting college degrees while in prison. But wait; they’re in that place to be punished, not to be cuddle. So is it right to give someone the tools to change their lives, even if that person is a felon? I think so. Carol Estes and this writer will give fact based proof, and personal experience on this touchy subject in today’s real world issues. We will get out sometime and live next door to you, so in the cell, or in the books the choice is yours.
The whole philosophy of locking someone up and letting then sit is much distorted. We the people must realize that these men and woman will get out at some time, and they could be living right next door to you. If we want to stop the prison life revolving door policy, then we need to do something different, and education will give these convicts a sense of self-worth: “The scene is like that at any college-except that the arched windows here are bricked in and the walls topped with coils of razor wire. And these college students are staying a lot longer than 4 years.” Basically, Estes is clamming it has the look of any college, but the feel of any prison. Most uninformed people think prison/jail is easy, well, this writer is here to say it’s not. It’s a culture in a culture and you don’t make the rules, you follow them or you end up dead, beaten, or raped. Yes, this is real and hard so if someone is willing to want to change, then who are we not to give them a chance? Furthermore it’s an investment.
This notion is further demonstrated by are financial aid process in this country to those who are less fortunate than others: “Pell Grants for prisoners are the backbone of prison college programs, are long gone-banned by Congress in 1994, even though grants to prisoners made up only 0.5 percent of Pell Grants. The essence of Estes argument is that the federal government waste more money on stupid stuff in a day then want they spend for these inmates to learn. I’m so very grateful that I had an opportunity to get my G.E.D., along with attend a substance abuse program while in prison which is how I’ve gotten to where I am today. Clean and Sober and in my 2-year of my community college with a 3.82 GPA. If it wasn’t for those very few counselors, teachers, and correction officers who genuinely cared, I would be dead, or back behind the walls, there is known don’t in my mind. Without hope and faith the ends are always the same, jail, institutions or death. Likewise, it can all come crashing down as fast as it has risen.
In addition to the success these programs have showed, it only takes one thing to happen to put the brakes on the whole thing. “All of the prisoners at the institution were punished with weeks of cell confinement. The state prison system has convulsed with a flurry of zero-tolerance rule enforcement, blaming programs for coddling prisoners and punitive transferring prisoners who have done nothing wrong.” In making this comment, Estes argues that shit happens in there, those folks are in prison and unless you’ve been there, or had to live there you don’t have a clue to want its like. I remember when the South Siders were fighting with the Northerners, we all got lock down. The corrections staff don’t run the prisons, they just work there. The inmates control it, they live there. When stuff happens (and it will), everyone is locked down in their cell, like a caged animal. No school, church, AA, canteen, nothing happens at all. So just one bad incident can set a program back for weeks, months, even years.
Similarly with Estes research, and this writers own firsthand knowledge, I believe we both are strong advocates for prisoners to be teaches, educated, guided, and encouraged to change their lives so when they are released they have a fighting chance to make it out here in the real world called life. Now hear this, not all want to change, but for those special few we should help in any way we can, and I would like to personally thank the few staff members while I was in there, and the ones out here in life who really care. Look past my crimes and tattoos and see in my eyes the man I was truly meant to be.