Modify our prison system and balance out spending on incarceration and education in NY

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As students of Valley Stream, NY, who have the knowledge and voice to change the world, we believe that it is our responsibility to address out problems that come with society. Please share with others, to spread the problem and restore our country.  

One major portion of government funding is going towards jails and the imprisonment of criminals. And while prisoners need to be fed, kept under the best conditions (possible) and have to be taken care of, we could still improve our prison system if we change our methods for treating and helping prisoners in and out of their cells and by using part of this said money for other pressing issues, such as our education. We, Kevin Murawski, Marcus Harris, and Adam Li are here to speak out about the problems of incarceration in the U.S., how they can be solved, and why and how we should balance out this spending.

Our state of New York, for example, is the highest spending state of our country for each individual prisoner. Crime in New York has declined for 27 years straight, is at its lowest since the 1950s, yet we still spend more than we ever have before. How will our students receive the proper education if not enough money is being put into it? At the moment, we do not see this: New York spent more than three times as much on prisoners than on students in 2015 ($69,355 per inmate compared to the $21,206 per student, Vera Institute and US Census Bureau). Any parent would want their child to get a suitable education, as well as be taught about their career and their future. Why not educate our students today so that they are informed to make the right decisions tomorrow? Previous experiences will get anyone to think the same about their future, and we want to improve their time of adolescence in order to see a decrease of problems in the fate of America’s society. Our budget reflects our values.

However, it is not just our state that has been seeing this outrageousness. For the last 20 years, the Department of Corrections has been collecting an increase of three times the original payment in taxes. In two decades, our representatives and officials have decided that we want to bring more money to keep our prisoners in, instead of other uses. We can change the education children are given, by having them learn about drugs and violence, and how to avoid trouble. 1 in 10 high school dropouts is imprisoned, while only 1 in 35 young graduates is an inmate. We are clearly seeing that school plays a big part in the way that we can make our future for ourselves, and it is where we find the behavior of normal people around us. High school dropouts could leave due occurrences such as stress, family problems, addiction, and so on. Do you want to make our schools a friendly environment for students to relax, recap on their experiences, and gain help? If your answer is yes, then we can unite together and make this change.

Our country is supposed to be one of the best in taking care of important problems, yet their ideas for dealing with prisoners is not as impressive and progressive as other nations. The director-general of Sweden, Nils Öberg, states that “[Sweden's] role is not to punish. The punishment is the prison sentence: they have been deprived of their freedom. The punishment is that they are with us.” Sweden wants to give help to their inmates and allow them to learn from their mistakes and give them a second chance in life. It would be more efficient, and reduce crime because of the motivation for prisoners to get jobs, live happier lives, identify what their weaknesses are, and how to improve themselves. It seems more reasonable than just keeping away someone from the world and either bringing them back or bringing violence to others inside. Portugal, another progressive country in this area, wants to help their drug offenders (one of the top reasons for imprisonment in our country is illegal drug use) by giving them therapy, instead of throwing them in jail, which seems more humane. We want to let the criminal realize what they did wrong and how they can go back on the right path in life. If we change our system, we will rise and burst out, getting other countries to follow the same direction.

To conclude, we have not done much to get the issue of incarceration to be solved, and it has been a problem for decades. We should focus on the youth's education. We are spending too much of our money on imprisonment, and instead of trying to punish the criminals, we should prevent the problem before it happens. Therefore, if we improve our ways of education we can prevent the crimes before they happen. Also, spending more money on the imprisonment shows that we care more about our prisoners than our students. Do we want to show that keeping humans in cages is more important than teaching them to stay out and do the right thing? Maybe, we can even educate the prisoners! But, by spending less on prisons and more on our future leaders’ education, we can build not only a smarter New York but also a safer one. We (not only New York but all of America) can learn from other countries, as the "weaker" ones still do better than us. Let us put our political differences aside and think about the education of children and how their futures will be affected by this funding. We hope that you can help us on our journey to end the issue of government funds with prison, that crime is no longer a main problem for the country, and that we can not only make this change in New York but of the United States.


Sincerely,


Kevin Murawski

8th Grade Accelerated Student

Principal’s List

President's Award for Educational Excellence Recipient (Gold Seal)


Adam J. Li

8th Grade Accelerated Student

Principal’s List

 

and Marcus K. Harris

8th Grade Accelerated Student

Principal’s List

President's Award for Educational Excellence Recipient (Gold Seal)

 

We can be reached at:
murawskk@vschsd.org

lia@vschsd.org

harrism@vschsd.org

 

We thank our Social Studies teacher, Mr. Visone, for inspiring us to make a change. It may have started out as a project, but we hope to make an impact.



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