Susan J. MacDonald, executive director
Washington County Commission on Aging Inc.
Inmate education bill will accomplish nothing
To the editor:
Wow, what a snow job on the public in the spring. The headline reads “Bill: Inmates could use academics to reduce sentences.”
The bill purportedly provides relief for those who have, among other things, completed “ ... a two- or four-year college degree, a certification in applied sciences, a technical education diploma, or a civics education program that requires passing a final exam.”
The major malfunction in this proposed legislation — the Newt Gingrich Republican Congress, in as I recall 1995, passed legislation that terminated Pell Grant funding for prisoners in college degree programs.
This ended prisoners’ possibilities of obtaining any of these academic credentials except for the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program, and in 2010 the Maryland General Assembly under the direction of
Gov. O’Malley terminated the Department of Education sponsorship of all prison GED programs and transferred these programs into the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), which promptly gutted virtually all funding for these programs.
So here’s my question to the General Assembly: If a prisoner has $5,000, is he more likely to pay cash for several semesters at a community college to obtain a two-year degree to reduce his sentence by 60 days, or pay $5,000 to an attorney to request a reduction of sentence that could take years off his time?
If the General Assembly was ever serious about promoting prisoner education as a means to reform and rehabilitation, they should have passed this legislation three decades ago when there were some serious applied sciences, technical and college programs operating inside the prison system. This feel-good bill will accomplish nothing.
Douglas Scott Arey, No. 130196 EA-111
Jessup Correctional Institution