Larry Stephenson: Increase Spending for Education, Not Prisons

The following article was submitted to us by Larry Stephenson, who is incarcerated at SCI Graterford, so that we could read it at the February 20th Occupy for Prisoners Rally.  It was originally printed in the Delaware County Daily Times.

Increase Spending for Education, Not Prisons

To the Times:

The pipeline from urban school districts to the penitentiary, is now put into motion. With all the recent budget cuts and the already-low academic performances at these schools, there’s nothing to be expected but a future of mass incarceration for this segment of society.

It is truly a lack of vision by legislators when the only growth industry they can come up with is expanding the prison industrial complex to make profits off of human beings.

All students deserve justice and education — justice in the sense of having their basic needs for good quality education met, to allow them to meet their full human potential, to advocate civilization in a positive way.

Denying any child the chance to be properly prepared for a successful future, educationally, is downright criminal. After spending millions of dollars, during the past decades on building new prisons and cutting educational budgets, society does not appear to be any closer to achieving the goals of public safety.
The money spent on warehousing nonviolent and geriatric, reformed, medically ill offenders should be used for educating our youth. A total of 19 prisons have been built since 1974, making a total of 27 prisons in Pennsylvania, and it hasn’t done anything to deter crime or make neighborhoods any safer.

It must be understood that about 90 percent of all prisoners will be released back into society some day — some in worse shape, morally and educationally than when they first entered the penal system.

If the bad decisions by those in charge of our children’s education is left unchecked on the front-end, it will cost society big time on the back end.

Budget cuts to education, plus low-performing schools, plus increased spending for the prison industrial complex, equals a pipeline to prison.

Reverse this equation and things may get better for everyone concerned.

Peace and hope!

LARRY STEPHENSON
Graterford