Educating Prisoners

The US Department of Justice estimates that between 70 and 80 percent of all prisoner are school dropouts.

The Obama administration would like to restore funding for in-prison college programs. A 1994 law prohibits inmates at state and federal prisons from receiving Pell grants, the main source of government aid for low-income college students.   The Administration believes that equipping incarcerated individuals with skills will allow them to re-enter the community and avoid future contact with the justice system and become productive members of society.

Representative Chris Collin (R., NY) argues that federal education funds should be spent on law-abiding families struggling to cover college costs. He introduced a bill called the “Kids Before Cons Act” to block federal funds from going to in-prison education.

Why is it a question of either/or? Why can’t Congress fund both?  Why do we, as a country, have to choose who gets an education and who doesn’t? If the object is to prevent recividism, shouldn’t we look for ways to prevent people going to prison by getting an education? (Currently the recividism rate is 80 percent over 5 years.)

I just don’t get it.