SCHOOLS NOT PRISONS
From Education to Incarceration
By Andrae L. Bridges
According to the American Heritage College Dictionary/ two of the many definitions for Sacrifice are: 2a- Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim. 3a.
Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value. Now whom might the victim(s) offered in this way be? Our children! What can have any greater value than our children? Apparently money! Please consider the following:
Due to budget woes some school districts here in Wisconsin are considering cutting extracurricular activities or closing a school or two all together. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has long since closed the doors to several of their public schools and have even consolidated some. There's now talk of four day school weeks. As it's said, "Sacrifices must be made." But when it comes to our children and their education, said sacrifices should never be an option. In the words of the late great Marvin Gaye: "What's goin' on?"
In short, prisons generate profit, schools don't. That's why teachers are fired and schools close, while correctional officers are hired and prisons expand. Future farmers of America have become future correctional officers of America. Our children become prisoners or today's livestock. It's nearly $30,000 to house one prisoner for a year. And that cost rises annually. Why? Living conditions for prisoners don't improve. So where is all that money going? I would know first hand how a prisoner lives because I've been incarcerated for IS years now. Yes, I too was sacrificed. But under the guise of "Get tough on crime." Now it's called, a recession or budget crisis.
Six days after my 16th birthday I was arrested, charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide—Party to a Crime, waived as an adult and subsequently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until the year 2037. I'll be 61 years old before I'm even considered for release. I make no excuses for my childhood transgressions and the devastating effects they had on the community.
Here's the thing: I am no longer the self-destructive, misguided, angry child I was 18 years ago. Yet, due to over-sentencing practices I basically have to spend the rest of my life here. What state would discard its youth as if we aren't salvageable?
Teachers are fired and schools are closed for the same reason I must remain in prison after having proved I'm 100% rehabilitated and ready to effect change throughout the communities I once tormented; for monetary gain—period. If you take the $30/000 it cost to annually house one inmate and multiply that by the 27 years I have left before I see the parole board, you get $810,000. Now multiply that by say 10 more rehabilitated/ one time juvenile offenders (there's hundreds more). With that alone you get more than enough money to build a school and hire top notch teachers. What gives? Why not sacrifice a prison, a few prisoners, and save our schools and children? In considering everything stated here, please ponder: "No child left behind!" Choose schools not prisons and education over incarceration!
* To read about my tragic childhood and other writings/ please log on to: www.forumforunderstandingprisons.net or http://andraebridges.blogspot.com/