Better prison education system a good investment

Friday, December 4, 2015

Education is not the final answer for all of our problems, but it is definitely one piece of the puzzle.

Prisons have their share of well-educated inmates, but educational opportunities should be a good investment for convicts who are truly trying to turn their lives around.

Advocacy group Nebraska Appleseed is trying to make that point, releasing a report Wednesday urging the state to increase funding for the corrections department's vocational and life skills training program.

Of the 5,348 inmates in Nebraska's correctional system, nearly 2,100 do not have a high school degree. And, according to the report, the Lincoln prison has a waiting list of 80 inmates for educational classes, with about 30 in correctional centers in Omaha and Lincoln.

While some may balk at "rewarding" inmates with a free education, better programming makes sense for Nebraska. More than 90 percent of Nebraska inmates will return to society, and our state has a low unemployment rate -- we need the workers.

Appleseed recommends better use of federal funding to finance education programs, eliminating waiting lists for Adult Basic Education and GED classes, expanding college offerings for males and making them available for female inmates.

Not that the state hasn't been trying, the report did commend the department of corrections for reviving the vocational program.

And, a corrections department official said a partnership is being launched with York College to provide more courses for female inmates, as well as making computers available for inmates without risking security.

Education has been a traditional emphasis at McCook's Work Ethic Camp, and McCook Community College has initiated efforts like the Center for Applied Science and Technology -- CAST -- welding training, with potential for more.

Education isn't the final answer for Nebraska's overcrowded prison system, but it is certainly a better investment that sending the same people to prison over and over again.

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  • The Paririe Gold Homes building program, CAST, MCC college classes and GED are all working to give the inmates a chance to be successful once released. Making individuals productive, tax paying citizens instead if reoffending and costing taxpayers additional dollars to lock them up again makes sense.

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, Dec 4, 2015, at 4:38 PM
  • I would think any technical education is a plus. So many high school students are hopelessly lost in our present educational system with it's emphasis on technology and social studies.

    Perhaps this is why some end up in the system.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Sat, Dec 5, 2015, at 12:29 PM
  • As a convicted felon, jobs options are slim and none, regardless of education. Low paying, manual labor jobs are all you get, no one hires ex cons unless there's a huge fiscal advantage. Why waste the time and money on these already proven losers? They'll just be better educated criminals!

    -- Posted by regular guy on Wed, Dec 9, 2015, at 6:29 AM
  • Thanks for the advertisement for your pet project Dennis.

    Education is important for all, but free will not do any good at all. To appreciate it a person must have some"skin in the game". There is no downside to being incarserated. Let's see I get free meals and free tv and free entertainment. I get clothes and a warm dry place to sleep. Where the heck is the punishment?

    -- Posted by quick13 on Thu, Dec 10, 2015, at 7:04 PM
  • quick13: I wonder how many incarCerated individuals can spell "incarCerated". Seems education might benefit you. You might tour WEC to see what the punishment is. I doubt you'd want to eat their processed food consistently; clean up after other men; work road crews in the summer; eat a small sack lunch when working in the sun on a road crew, share a room with several people snoring, sick, coughing, etc. The benefit of educating incarCerated individuals is providing skills so an incarCerated individual doesn't return to prison after parole, which costs YOU as a taxpayer.

    -- Posted by catstaff on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 12:24 PM
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