By Deborah Stipek and Kathryn Hanson

Victor Hugo’s 19th century remark, “He who opens a college door closes a prison,” still holds true these days.

The connection among education and incarceration was made starkly clear at Stanford’s 2014 Cubberley Lecture, exactly where actress Anna Deveare Smith brought to life the difficulties facing disadvantaged youth in American schools by way of a series of humorous, gritty and brutally honest monologues.

Deveare Smith, acclaimed for her roles on TV shows like The West Wing and Nurse Jackie, is known for bringing academic rigor to her theatrical creations. In portraying the sobering reality of disadvantaged youth caught in the school-to-prison pipeline, Deveare Smith challenged us to improvement.

The link between a poor education and incarceration is borne out in data. Dropouts are three times more likely to be arrested than high school graduates. Nationally, 68% of all males in prison do not have a college diploma. Only 20 percent of California inmates demonstrate a fundamental level of literacy, and the typical offender reads at an eighth grade level.

A lot of so-called dropouts who finish up in jail are truly push-outs. Under the guise of zero tolerance, initiated after Columbine, students are usually asked to leave school as an initial response rather than a last resort. Discriminatory practices are popular.

Click to read more …

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

Leave a Comment