Sunday, February 18, 2007

In Vermont, Prisoners Go To High School Behind Bars

In Vermont, Prisoners Go To High School Behind Bars - Associated Press

We have seen the future and it is Vermont.

Integrating high school education with prison systems is the only rescue effort we can undertake for the current generation of young people caught in the revolving door of crime and ignorance.

However, this rescue is as much for the rest of society as it is for those going in and out of prison. It's law-abiding people who are at greatest physical and economic risks from these unschooled outlaws. The cost of their criminal behavior and recidivism, plus the cost of further buffering society, far outweighs the additional cost of educating them, as part of paying their criminal debts.

When judge's sentence people there should be an assessment of their schooling needs to make them self-sustaining and lawful. It would be even better if GED achievement could somehow be mandated into requirements for release.

In the 'old days' youthful felons were given the option of going into the military instead of jail, and this approach straightened out many knuckleheads. However, the high-tech military of today needs kids with equal or above average intelligence, plus good attitudes, not street thugs fresh from drive-by shootings.

The long-term solution is higher expectations, better parenting, and better schools. But, in the short term Vermont is on the right track - integrating prison and high school. Half of all high school-aged Black males do not graduate, with prison as a likely next stop. No Child Left Behind meets No Person Left Behind. Something to consider.

James C. Collier


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