How Education and Experience Can Help Prisoners Achieve Parole

More from our inbox:

  • Close Call on Jan. 6: Perhaps the Secret Service Helped Save Democracy
  • A Faulty Analogy on the Killing of Innocents
  • The Purpose of College

Credit…Hoi Chan

To the Editor:

Re “Living Slow Deaths Behind Bars,” by Barbara Hanson Treen (guest essay, March 4):

Ms. Treen’s excellent essay raises a number of important issues, to which I’d like to add one more: prison education. If more incarcerated individuals were able to receive more education while behind bars, recidivism rates would almost certainly drop, and, eventually, the average age of the prison population would, too.

If more incarcerated men and women acquired at least some college credits while imprisoned, they would become, among other things, better candidates for earlier parole. Ms. Treen notes that parole boards typically “consider the transformation” applicants have undergone and, specifically, whether they have been able to “investigate and transform their thinking and behavior and to work toward repairing harm.”

Certainly, education is an enormously important vehicle for self-transformation. And there are currently nonprofit organizations — like Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison and the Bard Prison Initiative — that have been working heroically toward this goal.

But where is the state funding for such worthy initiatives? With more support from New York State, organizations like Hudson Link and the B.P.I. would exponentially increase the good they do. And we taxpayers would be making a valuable investment in our state’s human infrastructure — and, indeed, in our own humanity.

Aaron Schneider
New York
The writer, a retired Barnard College English professor and dean, teaches expository writing through Hudson Link at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.

To the Editor:

As a former New York State parole commissioner myself, I found this guest essay painfully resonant. The reality is that parole release decisions are still driven, in large part, by a culture of vengeance left over from the “war on crime” era.

Related Articles

Back to top button