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Imagine if prisons looked like the grounds of universities. Instead of languishing in cells, incarcerated people sat in classrooms and learned about climate science or poetry — just like college students. Or even with them.

This would be a boon to prisoners across the country, a vast majority of whom do not have a high school diploma. And it could help shrink our prison population. While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race.

The idea is rooted in history. In the 1920s, Howard Belding Gill, a criminologist and a Harvard alumnus, developed a college-like community at the Norfolk State Prison Colony in Massachusetts, where he was the superintendent. Prisoners wore normal clothing, participated in cooperative self-government with staff, and took academic courses with instructors from Emerson, Boston University and Harvard. They ran a newspaper, radio show and jazz orchestra, and they had access to an extensive library.

Norfolk had such a good reputation, Malcolm X asked to be transferred there from Charlestown State Prison in Boston so, as he wrote in his petition, he could use “the educational facilities that aren’t in these other institutions.” At Norfolk, “there are many things that I would like to learn that would be of use to me when I regain my freedom.” After Malcolm X’s request was granted, he joined the famous Norfolk Debate Society, through which inmates connected to students at Harvard and other universities.

Researchers from the Bureau of Prisons emulated this model when they created a prison college project in the 1960s. It allowed incarcerated people throughout the country to serve their sentences at a single site, designed like a college campus, and take classes full-time. Although the project was never completed, San Quentin State Prison in California created a scaled-down version with support from the Ford Foundation, and it was one of the few prisons then that offered higher education classes.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Academia, American Prisons 
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  1. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Actually, it might do better to turn high schools into ‘prisons’.

    Treat black thug students like convicts in prison. Use discipline and hard punishment on them. They might actually learn something.

    The problem with too blacks in high school is they goof around too much, don’t respect teachers, and have fear or respect for authority. But if black kids could be brought under boot-camp prison-camp method, they might do better. And they might not end up in jail.

    Why are blacks better-behaved in Cuba than in Detroit, Haiti, or Rio?
    It’s because Cuba is a police state that deals with black ruffians in a very hard way. If blacks acted like rapper thugs in school, they would face hard discipline. Also, blacks can’t get away with crazy stuff like BLM in Cuba.

    So, blacks do better when they come under strong discipline. It’s been said blacks do best in US military since they made to obey orders.

    For there to be learning and attainment of skills, there must first be discipline, diligence, and obedience to authority.

    In US high schools, strong and tough blacks beat up teachers and yell ‘suck my dick’. They run wild and don’t have the attitude for study.

    Blacks are naturally wilder and more aggressive due to evolution. Living in hunter-warrior societies, the traits that were most aggressive were favored as desirable.

    • Replies: @bartok
  2. “Or even with them.”

    As soon as I read that I knew a woman had written this. You just want that prisoner D.

  3. Has the author ever been outside?

  4. We should have them pick strawberries so they wont rot in the fields when the illegals are gone.

    • Replies: @pyrrhus
  5. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Yeah she is black and she has a PHD in African America studies. What are they doing here?

  6. When punishment’s foolishly banned
    The aggressive and vile take command.
    Only fear of the White
    Will keep Sambo polite,
    Which the equaloids can’t understand.

  7. SteveM says:

    This would be a boon to prisoners across the country, a vast majority of whom do not have a high school diploma.

    Another “L” who thinks that shoving everyone into college is the solution to the nation’s employment problems. A rinky-dink college degree earned in prison has even less value than a rinky-dink college degree earned on the outside.

    The U.S. incarceration model is indeed busted. Prisoners are treated like animals who will eventually be released. So when they are, it’s no surprise that they recommit.

    The solution is not bogus college degree programs, but programs that teach inmates marketable trade skills that they can use when they get out.

    Not every convict can be rehabilitated, but not every inmate should be treated like garbage either and written off prior to release.

    Hinton though is the wrong messenger with the wrong message.

  8. I would prefer rather not to. – But hey: Why not turn the New York Times into a prison? I could imagine to consent to this – excuse me, please – splendid - eheh – vision, hehe.

  9. Svigor says:

    Blank-slatism makes you stupid. Once you go blank-slate, you dispense with the possibility that the students are ever the problem. Once you decide that environment is everything, you say stupid things like “the only reason these convicts aren’t brain surgeons is the educational system.”

    Imagine if prisons looked like the grounds of universities. Instead of languishing in cells, incarcerated people sat in classrooms and learned about climate science or poetry — just like college students. Or even with them.

    This would be a boon to prisoners across the country, a vast majority of whom do not have a high school diploma. And it could help shrink our prison population. While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race.

    Reality: the main limit on education levels is dictated by behavioral genetics (IQ, conscientiousness, etc.), which is strongly correlated with race. In other words, yes, stupid crackers tend away from education and toward crime the same way stupid negros do, but stupidity rates vary widely by race; black populations create stupid negros at far higher rates than white populations create stupid crackers.

    Prisoners wore normal clothing

    How is that going to work? You can make the prison uniforms look more like normal clothing, but they’re always going to be a uniform, so they’re never going to look normal in numbers.

    Norfolk had such a good reputation, Malcolm X asked to be transferred there from Charlestown State Prison in Boston so, as he wrote in his petition, he could use “the educational facilities that aren’t in these other institutions.” At Norfolk, “there are many things that I would like to learn that would be of use to me when I regain my freedom.” After Malcolm X’s request was granted, he joined the famous Norfolk Debate Society, through which inmates connected to students at Harvard and other universities.

    Then he got riddled with bullets by his fellow Muslim negros, the end.

    Look, I’m all for giving prisoners the tools for education. If it’s done for maximum cost-effectiveness, and not as a jobs-creation boondoggle for big gov’t and teachers unions. Set up a system where they can educate themselves and then take an exam for college credit. Use modern equipment (internet connections, Kindles/whatever, etc.), plus tracking to keep the bad apples out.

    Actually, it might do better to turn high schools into ‘prisons’.

    Treat black thug students like convicts in prison. Use discipline and hard punishment on them. They might actually learn something.

    The problem with too blacks in high school is they goof around too much, don’t respect teachers, and have fear or respect for authority. But if black kids could be brought under boot-camp prison-camp method, they might do better. And they might not end up in jail.

    You’re right, but that doesn’t go far enough. Black males need institutionalization from like 15-25 (or more), the “murder period” when their hormones are raging. Never gonna happen. Nor should it. Blacks are their own burden, not the White man’s.

    So, blacks do better when they come under strong discipline. It’s been said blacks do best in US military since they made to obey orders.

    The primary reason is that the military cherry-picks Blacks; only the best make it into the military. They are at par with the rather average Whites in the military, at least in terms of IQ (there’s no test I know of that can really screen Blacks by character), so the military gives the appearance of a success story.

  10. Cato says:

    Only about 30% of the population is smart enough to do college. The nearly 1% of the US population in prison is overwhelmingly drawn from the lower tail of intelligence. So what are you going to teach these prisoners? Remedial Arithmetic? Spelling? The esoteric interpretations of Sponge Bob Square Pants?

    Had a friend who spent time in the joint. He took courses in how to install burglar alarms. Not quite college, but something he could use when he got out and no one would hire him.

  11. It’s ironic the author chose college, because it is K-12 education the prisoners are lacking – and government K-12 schools are already like prisons. So what is there to do?

    There are already GED programs, so all you need is for prisoners to be self-motivated.

    Oops!

    • Replies: @Weaver1
  12. bartok says:
    @Anon

    In US high schools, strong and tough blacks beat up teachers and yell ‘suck my dick’.

    And that’s just the young women.

    • LOL: Clyde
    • Replies: @CCZ
  13. college is one of the biggest scams of our time. going to college will not guarantee anything. most people dont belong in college. most of them are better off going to work straight away. i know a guy who went to college, wasted 5yrs, and 50k, and now hes unloading trucks. the thing is, he couldve done that out of hs. what hes doing doesnt even require a 9th grade education. people who get good jobs usually get them from connections, not education alone.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  14. bjondo says:

    There are some nice prisons. Usually where the Pollards and Madoffs go for a while.

    Keep Attica and Folsom unpleasant and fill with Neocons (Israel firsters and lasters).

    Treat Neocons same as Israel treats Mordecai Vanunu during incarceration and after release.

  15. MarkinLA says:
    @SIMPLE sudonymic Handle

    people who get good jobs usually get them from connections, not education alone.

    Yes for liberal arts, no for STEM fields.

  16. Art Deco says:

    She lays on the fatuity a bit thick. She’s a professor. At Harvard.

  17. Weaver1 says:

    Why would it be positive to teach them climate “science” or left-wing poetry? Let’s not brainwash prisoners.

    Teaching job skills would be nice. Online college courses, books, and monitored test taking are all they’d need though.

    Don’t hire more teachers. Don’t expand the state. In general, fewer teachers are needed for the US system as a whole.

    I’m all for helping prisoners, improving the prisons. (Prisons oughtn’t sanction rape by other inmates, and the food should be nutritious.) But let’s not create workfare for teachers.

  18. Weaver1 says:
    @Backwoods Bob

    I’m all for prisons not sanctioning rape at least.

    GED programs are good. Similar programs could exist for collegiate education (with a focus on employable skills, not gender studies and climate “science”).

    What I fear is workfare for teachers. As you say, a motivated inmate can accomplish a great deal on his own. Magical osmosis from sitting in a classroom helps no one.

  19. You don’t really want BoP bureaucrats trying to run an educational institution. As famous con and prisoner of conscience John Kiriakou points out, corrections is white man’s welfare, relief for all the dumbest shits trapped in America’s stankiest shitholes. All they could teach is Duh 101 and Doi 201 and Advanced Whut?

    The prisoners can just do it themselves. The best tertiary-education seminar in the country, way better than anything at Harvard, is Mumia’s stir cell at Mahanoy. The screws and pigs are petrified of him. They have no idea what he’s talking about.

    • Replies: @fnn
  20. Renoman says:

    Haven’t spent much time with criminals have ya?

  21. Turn prisons into organ farms

  22. anarchyst says:

    I know this runs counter to many of the views on this site, and in society, in general, but, here goes…
    It is my belief that once an offender completes his (her) full sentence, and complies with any restitution requirements, the “slate should be wiped clean”, and ALL Constitutional rights should be restored. Yes, this includes “gun rights” as well. I am inclined to go along with “ban the box” laws that prevent job applications from containing the question about prior felonies and misdemeanor. Yes, I do believe that criminals should pay for their crimes, including restitution to victims, but by restricting them from becoming “fully functioning members of society”, we are perpetuating a problem.
    I realize that there are criminals that can NEVER be rehabilitated, but, for most offenders, who have less than a life sentence, they WILL be coming back to our communities, and every opportunity should be afforded them to help them straighten out their lives.
    At least a functional GED degree should be a requirement as a condition of release for any offender. Those who are below a high-school educational level would be detained until they achieve a high-school level of education. In-house computer networks could easily be implemented in just about any corrections facility. The present-day system doesn’t work, with those who are released go on to “bigger and better” criminal activities, as many legitimate doors are shut to them.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
  23. Weaver1 says:

    I’d like to highlight one concern if I may:

    Prisoners should be helped, not brainwashed. The goal should be to encourage inmates to become capable employees, thus enabling them to later provide for a wife and children.

    I’m unconvinced the author wishes to actually help prisoners. “Climate science or poetry” do not make one employable. And workfare for teachers is unwanted. A student must be motivated, will not benefit from osmosis in a classroom.

    One reform that would be interesting is to ensure white collar crimes are treated more seriously.

    People frequently write on “helping” prisoners, but rarely does anyone seem interested in actually helping them. Prisoners are being used as pawns in political chess.

    Edit: I wrote this assuming my earlier comments were removed, which have just reappeared. I’m confused, not intending to spam.

  24. AKAHorace says:
    @anarchyst

    Agree, the penalty should be the prison sentence. Pay that and wipe the slate clean. Otherwise the effects of conviction depend a lot on social status and the networks that you have after you leave prison. If you wipe the slate clean it becomes in the ex convicts interest to go straight.

  25. markflag says:

    Just think what could be accomplished by having convicts be exposed to gender studies and film. Or perhaps black studies, or any of the other snowflake majors. Tea with krumpets in the mid-afternoon. Orange jump suits with felt elbow patches, pipes with aromatic tobacco rather than crack or crystal meth. Perhaps they could learn to play cricket, less aggressive and more genteel than Amurican football.

    Delusional thinking par excellence

  26. fnn says:
    @Cogito Ergo Suck

    As famous con and prisoner of conscience John Kiriakou points out, corrections is white man’s welfare, relief for all the dumbest shits trapped in America’s stankiest shitholes.

    G. Gordon Liddy said essentially the same. If anything, he was harsher.

  27. pyrrhus says:
    @Hippopotamusdrome

    Perhaps most prisoners are too dumb to pick strawberries. So let’s send them to college!

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