Located in south Stockton, the local San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and Jail was built in 1849. (Michealla Foules)
Located in south Stockton, the local San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and Jail was built in 1849.

Michealla Foules

Prisons vs. schools

Imbalance of two systems is a reality

October 10, 2014

You may have seen a commercial with students sitting in a small classroom, talking about what they want to be when they grow up.

One student wants to become a police officer, another student wants to be a doctor, and so on.

But then, the scene greys and the small classroom turns into a plain jail cell with few barred windows, and rather than the costumes signifying their aspirations, the students are wearing orange jumpsuits.

“There has been one UC university and 22 prisons built since 1980. How many will there be when I grow up?” This shows up on the screen in front of the sad children’s faces.

I can’t help but be affected by this emotionally. Witnessing people struggling with finding the right school to further their education and stressing about the strict admittance rate into quality universities has taken its toll on me.

What if I don’t get accepted into the colleges I apply for? I am not from a place where people commonly go to college, let alone one I want to attend, and my grades aren’t amazing. So why bother?

Last month, a teacher in Washington, D.C. was speaking with a fourth grade student who said by the age of 20 he would either be dead or in jail.

The student did not expect to have a career or grow old at all and when the teacher showed him his actual life expectancy, he was in shock.

Sadly, this is how many students think and is also a cause of the rising incarceration statistics.

Once students give up on furthering their education, they think their main option is being a criminal.

It is almost a guarantee that things will only go downhill from there and the students are all hoping that they are one of the few who make it.

For years, there has been a rumor going around that states and prison management companies look at fourth grade test scores to determine prison growth needs in the future.

Unfortunately, the case of the fourth grade boy in D.C. applies to many students in neighborhoods that are less than admirable.
It starts a chain reaction. As the incarceration rate rises in a neighborhood, the rate of graduation decreases.

I could say that we need to have more schools and fewer prisons because, of course, that makes sense, but it isn’t that easy.
Having criminals walking among friends and family members doesn’t seem very appealing, but sometimes it comes to that.

There are mass releases of prisoners and most of the time those same people make it back within those cell walls eventually, so why release them in the first place? Kill them off, you say?

No, that’s even more expensive. It is a bit of a stalemate.
What is more important: giving a child a great education or keeping them alive and safe?

There are too many variables to consider and I find myself not being able to form many opinions, but no solutions to the issue come up at hand.

The value of education shouldn’t be monetary and in a perfect world issues like this wouldn’t arise.

However, this isn’t a perfect world and there is no perfect solution, so we will stay ever-changing and hopefully forever-improving.

So please, the next time you see someone, young or old, struggling with their school work or feeling overwhelmed with their situation, extend yourself and let them know you’re there for them academically and emotionally.

Be the influence that encourages your peers to further their education and to do their best.

You might be the one who keeps them from becoming the criminal or deadbeat that outsiders think Stocktonians are.


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