What Prisoners Serving Life Sentences Gain From Education
The Atlantic
June 27, 2017

“Policy circles tend to predicate the purpose of education singularly on reducing recidivism and increasing post-release employment opportunities. According to that line of logic, then, investing time and resources in individuals who will not be released is a waste. If the purpose of education for incarcerated individuals is instead understood as something that exists beyond social and vocational utility, then prisons take on new meaning. Perhaps prison educators and policymakers would more fully consider how such spaces serve as intellectual communities that restore human dignity within an institution built on the premise of taking that dignity away. In a recently published article for the Harvard Educational Review, I argue that providing education to incarcerated individuals should not be based on a myopic conception of efficacy; instead people in prison deserve education because the collective project of learning is and should be understood as a human right. The community of learners that Lance and his classmates have built has nothing to do with whether or not they will one day be released. (The names of the inmates referenced throughout this essay are the same pseudonyms I used in the aforementioned article.)”

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