Shortly after reading in Rereading America, "Learning to Read", an essay by Malcolm X, I had wondered what other forms of educations lay behind prison gates. Malcolm X never made it past the eighth grade, yet after a stay in prison he could communicate aloud and on paper very eloquently. He taught himself all this with the help of a dictionary and other books he obtained from the Norfolk Prison Colony School. .
Upon further studying I found that in 1995, over eighty percent of federal and state prisons offered a general equivalency diploma and offered classes to help inmates achieve this goal. At that time a quarter of all prisoners were involved in GED programs. Over forty percent of prisons were offering college credit level courses, which inmates could voluntarily participate in to achieve a two year college degree. Twenty-one percent of prisons offered classes towards a four year college degree. Unfortunately, during the mid 90's, many grants were canceled and most expansions of prison schools and libraries denied. Even though I could not find the numbers, I suppose that all these statistics went down. .
I can only speculate on the reasons that this funding was canceled. Many taxpayers don't want to pay for putting criminals through college. They argue that if they cant afford to put their law abiding children and themselves through college, why should they pick up the tab for criminals. .
This also extends beyond college credit classes to just job training. At first glance it seems more then reasonable for job training, without it ex-cons would have no where to go when released, except back to a life of crime. It is a proven fact that job training lowers the recidivism (repeat offender) rate, especially in younger inmates. Yet fewer than one in ten inmates in the United States has a job (in prison) that might lead to employment after release. This is not only because of complaining taxpayers, objections are also raised by labor unions and private businesses.