Give Prisoners A Free Education Argumentative Essays Examples

Published: 2021-06-18 05:10:54
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Category: Education, Society, Social Issues, Crime, United Nations, Prison, Alicea, Prisoner

Type of paper: Essay

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Education is a right that is basic to every human being and is a requisite for the individual’s exercise of all other rights available to a person (UNESCO, 2009). It provides many benefits to an individual and usually is the key to a person’s success. Through education, a person can achieve more and can live a brighter future. But if a person commits a crime and gets incarcerated, does he retain this right? This paper will take into consideration the opposing views that several groups take pertaining a prisoner’s right to education by answering the following questions. 1. What is the extent of a person’s basic right to education? 2. Does getting education in prison defeat the purpose of punishment? 3. What are the benefits of education in prison? Understanding the extent of a person’s right to education will give an idea as to whether a prisoner is entitled to a free education during incarceration. At the same time, determining the implications to society in providing education to a prisoner will help reconcile the opposing views in terms of providing or not providing education to the prisoners. What is the extent of a person’s basic right to education? In a statement made by Vernor Munoz of the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council on access to education in prisons, he gave emphasis to the prisoner’s right to retain his basic privileges as a human being as well as enjoy other freedoms granted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 2009). Munoz likewise cited the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners which was a resolution adopted by the United Nations in 1990 that also gives importance and protects the rights of a
person in prison to participate in cultural activities as well as enjoy education considering these activities promote the complete development of an individual’s personality and overall welfare (United Nations, 2009). Munoz added that a major factor, why there is a huge public indifference and even resistance to the idea of prisoners getting the privilege of education, is due to the big influence of media who are, unfortunately, also ill-informed and contributing to the hostile sentiments of the public (United Nations, 2009). Furthermore, the correctional institutions usually consider the provision of education to prisoners, merely, as one of its activities being lined up for the prisoners and do not see it as a right that is supposedly to be enjoyed by every prisoner who is deprived of freedom (United Nations, 2009). Given this, several problems usually take place such as the interruption or termination of courses on the personal whims of prison administrators, not having libraries, not giving importance to the needs associated with specific disabilities and the non-granting of education as a form of punishment (Right to Education Project, 2009). On the other hand, seeing education as one of the basic legal rights of a prisoner would ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities to education (Bastion, 1987). Knowing their legal right to education, prisoners would already have a ground for objecting to inadequate educational facilities and resources (Bastion, 1987).
Does getting education in prison defeat the purpose of punishment? Advocating the standpoint that prisoners do not have the right to education, Dianne Clemens who was president of Justice for All - Citizens United Against Crime, said that incarceration is not only a sanction and a punishment but also serves to protect the public (Alicea, 2003). As a society, public safety of the citizens should be prioritized over programs that were created to develop the personal growth of the prisoners
considering that most, if not all, rehabilitation programs offered in prisons were also available to these inmates even before their incarceration (Alicea, 2003). All states give their own citizens different programs that are tax-supported including academic education, skills training, psychological and psychiatric treatment, among others (Alicea, 2003). Every prisoner was afforded the chance to improve their lives by taking advantage of different programs offered by the government and other institutions even before they got imprisoned but, unfortunately, made their own individual wrong choices by committing crimes or acts that are in violation of the prescribed laws (Alicea, 2003). These prisoners, therefore, must acknowledge and accept the consequences of their actions, choices and decisions (Alicea, 2003). Clemens added that there are certain privileges and basic rights that should be enjoyed by an inmate such as due process, safe shelter, food, clothing and medical attention but should not be entitled to more than these necessities such as tax-supported programs (Alicea, 2003). Rehabilitation and reform programs in prisons have been provided at the cost of a lot of taxpayers’ money. Society tends to allow criminals to find faults in others and to not own up their wrongdoings and, to some extent, allowing them to blame poverty, history, their environment or even their parents just to free themselves from any accountability (Alicea, 2003). Given society’s tolerance to blame shifting, recidivism rate is over 50 percent while the rate of violent crime dramatically grew and populations in prison has continuously increased (Alicea, 2003). Clemens concluded that society should give importance to individual accountability and responsibility, rather than using an emotionally charged approach to crimes and the criminals and their corresponding punishment (Alicea, 2003).
Some people would also argue that the privileges offered in county prisons are too many and do not anymore serve the purpose of an actual sentence that needs to be served by an inmate (Henson, 2009). The free education being enjoyed by the prisoners is also a privilege most likely being taken for granted by the inmates who are getting them (Henson, 2009). Many would question the free education afforded to prisoners considering ordinary and hardworking citizens fight everyday to be their best and work hard so they can afford their own or their children’s education (Henson, 2009). Inmates who have caused their families and respective communities harm and destruction are being given a free education that they do not likely value since most people would think that education while in prison is not among the top priority of the incarcerated criminals but, instead, these inmates would need counseling and help (Henson, 2009). Those who have chosen to commit a crime have also decided to limit their opportunities and freedoms (Henson, 2009). What are the benefits of education in prison? Certain groups, on the other hand, advocate the right of inmates to education. A 2007 study by the Correctional Education Association saw the difference between released prisoners who had participated in education programs while in prison compared to those who did not avail of the programs (Cliffsnotes, n.d.). After the release of those former inmates who took part and availed of education while incarcerated, it was shown that they were less likely to be rearrested than those who did not participate (Cliffsnotes, n.d.). Furthermore, those who had availed of the free education were better off than those who did not participate in the sense that they found higher-paying jobs (Cliffsnotes, n.d.). There are also evidences supporting that education can lower future prison rates (Cliffsnotes, n.d.). Educators believe the connection between low education and criminal activity and support the argument that the more educated a person is, the less likely that said person is to commit a crime (Cliffsnotes, n.d.). Education to people who are deprived of their freedom gives them hope and a chance to hone whatever talents and skills they have, not only in terms of academic abilities but also their abilities to relate socially and, at the same time, teaches them on how to manage well their financial resources (Vorhaus, 2014). Getting a job after being released from prison is a big deterrent for these former inmates to commit again another offense and this is why having an education is an advantage considering that education makes the inmates become qualified and increases their chances in landing a job (Vorhaus, 2014). Former inmates encounter a lot of challenges when they start seeking employment and the fact of criminal record alone makes it difficult for them to hunt for jobs (Vorhaus, 2014) since it is already a huge turnoff for a prospective employer. Considering that employment plays a key role as to whether or not a former inmate is likely to commit again an offense, it is best that the education provided to the inmates are aimed at increasing an inmate’s chances to find an employment after the inmate’s release from prison (Vorhaus, 2014). Education gives prisoners the sense of remaining a part of society and the thought of having a place back to the community can motivate and inspire these former inmates to become active players in their local communities (Vorhaus, 2014). For these reasons, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education argued that prisons should afford an environment that both ‘enables positive change’ for prison inmates and creates a ‘significant contribution in their journey towards rehabilitation and reintegration into society’ (Vorhaus, 2014). Prison education, it was further mentioned, is a source of hope and aspiration, while maximizing and making great use of their time while in detention (Vorhaus, 2014). Prison education also empowers a prisoner to own up and redirect his or her life and to have a better mindset and perspective from thinking as a victim into viewing himself as someone who can also succeed and make better use of his or her life (Vorhaus, 2014). Conclusion Considering the arguments we learned from the opposing sides, we can choose to agree on some points. It is a fact that the prison inmates committed crimes against the society, community and even against their own families. Given this, they should suffer the consequences of their actions through different forms including incarceration. Both can agree that education provide great benefits to all human beings but the disagreement comes in with the issue as to whether or not the benefit of education can extend to those who are imprisoned. Some would argue that prisoners do not deserve the benefit of a free education since they are considered ills of our society while another group believes that everyone, including the inmates, deserve a second chance in life. I believe we can try to compromise the two standpoints by coming up with a competent system of screening the inmates who are deserving to avail of the privilege of education. Admittedly, there are prisoners who seem to be undeserving of a second chance considering they show no remorse for the crimes they have committed. However, there are inmates who are truly sorry for what they did or, for some, are not even deserving to be in prison. For these inmates, they should be afforded the right to keep their sanity through wise and valuable use of their time and an avenue by which they could improve their lives once they get out of prison.
Alicea, J. (2003). Prison: To punish or to reform? Retrieved from http://www.
Bastion, A. (1987). The right of prisoners to education. Retrieved from quence=1
Cliffsnotes. (n.d.). Do prisoners deserve to be educated? Retrieved from prisoners-deserve-to-be- educated
Henson, K. (2009). Prison inmates shouldn’t receive free college education. Retrieved from receiving-free-college-education-invoke-controversy/
Right to Education Project (RTE). (2009). Prisoner’s right to education. Retrieved from
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2009). The right to education. Retrieved from new/en/right2education
United Nations Human Rights. (2009). Prisoners’ right to education. Retrieved from
Vorhaus, J. (2014). Prisoners’ right to education: A philosophical survey. London Review of Education, 12 (2), 162-172. Retrieved from /content/ioep/clre/2014/00000012/00000002/art00002?crawler=true

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