Public Education vs. Prisons

Gov. Rauner continues to fail in passing an Illinois budget and citizens are suffering./Photo by U.S. Air National Guard, Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Lealan C. Buehrer

Gov. Rauner continues to fail in passing an Illinois budget and citizens are suffering./Photo by U.S. Air National Guard, Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Pablo Medina, Editor

Which would you rather see people in: a maximum security prison or a well-furnished educational institution?

While the nine public universities of Illinois are suffering from the lack of funding from the state and are in serious danger of closing, the state’s prisons are still receiving funding, according to Nonprofit Quarterly.

Rauner is continuing to state that the prison system needs reform. However, the programs that help ex-convicts transition back into a world outside of their jail cells and help keep juveniles out of the prison system are facing major challenges because of the lack of a state budget.

According to the Northwest Herald, Rauner emphasized the goal for correctional facilities to utilize effective rehabilitation, rather than simply shelter criminals.

The article quoted Rauner as saying, “This is critically important work. This is not partisan work. This is good government work, and this is human service work.”

Well unfortunately, even the goals Rauner favors are in danger because everything he touches withers and dies.

WBEZ reported in December that the 2016 budget impasse would severely impact Redeploy Illinois, a program that counsels juvenile offenders of minor crimes.The program helps them get their lives back on track instead of facing jail time. Many of its centers are being forced to turn new participants down or shut centers down due to lack of state funding. According to WBEZ, the program saved the state $30 million and kept nearly 500 kids out of jail in 2014 alone.

Yes, prison reform is critically important. So why is this program not receiving its funding?

It’s pretty insulting to me that a man who aims to cut public education and leave troubled teens in the dust to suffer and face imprisonment would also believe in prison reform. How does he think this reform happens without education and public services for those most in need?

Many students in Illinois are in financial limbo. Some institutions, like the Illinois Institute of Technology, are telling students they need to pay the school what they were supposed to receive in MAP grant funding. This is to cover for a shortfall because the state hasn’t paid the schools and, without that funding, the consequences to the institutions could be severe.

I think Rauner should step down from his position of authority. He clearly has no desire to help anyone that lives in this state other than himself. Like a true businessman, students, disabled citizens, and delinquents are just numbers to him.

I strongly support reform for convicted felons, because I believe in second chances, just as I believe that education molds a person. If you can help someone realize the positive purpose they have in the society they inhabit, they can change.

The movie “Dogs on the Inside” has shown me that inside the hardened presence of inmates is a human capable of trust and love for another. That is why it frustrates me that politicians like Rauner can’t get this budget passed and people are suffering.

Both public schools and the prison system need help from the government to build the next generation of safe and educated citizens. The real criminal is reclining back in his seat in Springfield, watching the state crumble from his indifference.