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The Transformative Power of Knowledge: Education or Imprisonment?

Although many may think otherwise, the amount of education given to a person can have a direct affect on their future in the criminal justice system. Some students and even teachers, for instance, have developed a stereotype that the pupils who are subject to below average grade percentages are the same ones with behavioral issues. Is this stereotype just a stereotype, or is it true? Does the absence of education affect misbehavioral and incarceration rates?

The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes, due to the overwhelming amount of research from different sources. According to data, high school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested than high school graduates. An average offender is proven to read at an eighth grade level, despite their age. Nationally, 68 percent of all male dropouts in the U.S. do

not have a high school or college diploma.

While the evidence is accurate, it is important to remember that many of these dropouts are actually expelled students that were forced out due to changes in policy and even discrimination. For example, black students are actually 3 times more likely to be suspended than white students are, and they also represent 16 percent of the juvenile population. It is estimated that only ⅔ incarcerated teens are voluntary dropouts. Studies show that 30,000 incidents of school suspensions are actually nonviolent non criminal offenses.

The community of education should also be put into consideration. Children who are in disadvantaged communities and are people of color may not have the privilege of graduating high school. The same incident extends to children with disabilities and children who face abuse. Schools having different policies and standards are also a contributing factor. Some children are removed from schools in wealthy communities with higher standards for so-called mischief; incidents that actually result in zero harm and misconduct.

Overall, it is clear that educational institutions and the criminal justice system are faulted when it comes to providing children and inmates with appropriate learning privileges. It is also proven that educating students costs less than imprisoning them. All it takes to reduce juvenile incarceration rates is the benefit of the doubt.


Works Cited

Hanson, Kathryn and Stipek, Deborah “Schools v. prisons: Education's the way to cut prison

population”, San Jose Mercury News, Mercury News, Stanford Graduate School of Education,https://ed.stanford.edu/in-the-media/schools-v-prisons-educations-way-cut-prison-population-op-ed-deborah-stipek, May 16, 2014

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