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Bail Out Potential Students

Is America letting too much of it's youth slip into the prison system?

Hajer Moumni

Naked Politics Blogger

I’ve personally never given much thought concerning the procedures nor maintenances of jail cells. In fact, I have always accepted my limited knowledge regarding the subject. To me, the concept of imprisonment was simple: bad people go to jail and the government deals with all the complications. Well, at least that was until the president of the United States began tweeting about the incarceration budget and where its money could actually be going instead. In fact, the United States spends over 80 billion dollars every year on mass incarceration, which in reality is enough money to eliminate tuition fees for all public collages and universities in the states, according to president Obama.

This brings me to the concept of fighting crime with education. I believe that education is the most important weapon that resides in every nation. It builds a bridge between the present and future, handing generations to come the necessary tools to maintain continuous global advancement. Shifting part of the US’s incarceration budget from imprisonment towards education will much likely solve many economic problems, as well as various social issues.

At this point you might be wondering: what will come of the existing criminals? Also, would this mean unleashing a bunch of criminals onto the streets? To answer these questions, we must first accept the idea that not all those that are trapped behind bars are criminals. It is undoubted that there are a certain amount of people that earned their place in jail for committing unforgivable crimes, however that is not the case with everybody. There are many “prisoners” that are held in custody for their association with nonviolent offences.

According to professor Michelle Alexander, there are around 2.3 million prisoners in the states, half of which are incarcerated due to drug related crimes, 70% of which are either African-American or Hispanic. This does not suggest that people of colour and ethnic differences consume or sell more drugs; they have proven to be involved in similar levels of drug use as white people, but are 10 times more likely to get arrested for it. This statistic merely exhibits the apparent levels of discrimination found in the judicial system. The majority of drug related crime arrests occur due to individuals’ resort to illegal methods of moneymaking to provide for their families as a result of their lack of education and experience. With this being said, the increased provision of education and an increase in its accessibility may contribute to the eradication or drastic decrease in drug provision, consumption, and production. This gives children and young adults a chance at an honest job and life.

If the US choses to direct part of the incarceration efforts towards opening more schools and public universities, it may result in remarkable changes. To begin with, the more people are educated, the less they would be associated in committing crimes. A higher level of education amongst the general population will grant them more opportunities at getting decent paying jobs, resulting in the previously discussed lower likelihood of straying towards crime.

Education is one of the leading contributions to sustainable growth within an economy, for it adds value to an economy’s labour force, which in turn leads to better quality and greater qualifications, as well as a more efficient use of a country’s resources. This leads to sustainable economic growth, more production, more exporting and therefore, the creation of more jobs and lower rates of unemployment and poverty within a country. A higher GDP in the long term also suggests that there would be lower crime rates; due to the diminishment of drug use, theft, and alcohol abuse. So in reality, this would pose as a financial benefit to the United States as there will be no need for an 80 billion dollar incarceration budget to begin with.

Another good reason to support this is that in many states about 80% of young men hold a criminal record, which impacts their future employment. 80% is a substantial percentage, which would affect workforce quality.

There are approximately 2.7 million children whose parents are in jail. 2.7 million children that are likely to grow into their parent’s shoes. 2.7 million children that will be wandering the streets instead of going to school. Maybe it’s time to wake up and reduce that number. Maybe it’s time to raise 2.7 million qualified working men and women instead.

Education may perhaps not change the undeveloped minds of those that choose to discriminate, however it is guaranteed to change the decisions and choices of generations to come. It would also assure a better economic future for the nation as a whole. As President Barack Obama noted “Mass incarceration doesn’t work. Let’s build communities that give kids a shot at success.” If we guide young people towards the right direction, they are more likely to have a better future. I am a firm believer in the potential instilled within us all. It really is time to start unlocking the enclosed.

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