What I learned from teaching prisoners

What I learned from teaching prisoners

Gov. DeSantis is trashing criminal justice reform | Column, July 2

As someone who taught college level courses to incarcerated Pell Grant students in maximum and medium security prisons in the late ‘80s, and early ‘90s, I found professor William Felice’s column most interesting. Among my students, about 40% were Black and 30% were Hispanic. The underprivileged were a large percentage of my students. Incarcerated students who got a GED and college level courses had a recidivism rate of 15% as opposed to 85% for uneducated incarcerated students.

Congress terminated the Pell Grants for incarcerated students after an uproar about whether tax dollars should be given to incarcerated students. It sounds like the current uproar about affirmative action. Legacy and privilege vs. underprivileged.

We took away Pell Grants only to see that we were not misspending tax dollars, but now we misspend tax dollars to privatize prisons and put money in corporate pockets and virtually guarantee that incarcerated persons will be unlikely to get an opportunity to become contributing members of society.

Most of those incarcerated students committed minor crimes under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I worry that the criminal justice system punishes the underprivileged and keeps them away from the privileged. The First Step Act got in the way of profit for the private prisons. The more prisoners, the higher the profits. It’s interesting that the conservative group Americans for Prosperity is on the opposite side of privatized prisons.

Mark Schumerth, St. Pete Beach

Speed kills

7 days, 8 deadly wrecks | June 19

Driving in Pinellas County has become the Wild West. So many drivers are speeding with impunity. The physics is simple: Higher speed equals less reaction time equals more accidents. Higher speed increases force of impact equals more fatalities. Conventional speed enforcement is impossible with the number of violators. It’s time to legalize electronic speed enforcement and heavy penalties. The violation could be issued against the vehicle’s registration. Tickets one and two would be a hefty fine; ticket number three would be revocation of the vehicle’s registration. If this sounds harsh, so are the consequences of death caused by speeding.

Alex Mackenzie, Crystal Beach

A flawed argument

Florida is not flying blindly on education choice | Column, July 4

The fact that the Tampa Bay Times printed the article by Scott Kent, director of strategic communications for Step Up For Students, shows, admirably, a commitment to free speech and discussion. I wonder, however, if I am the only person who noticed the flaw in Kent’s argument, in spite of how well documented he makes it. On the one hand, he claims that people’s fears regarding the damage to public schools caused by the Legislature’s funding for private education while underfunding of public education are basically unfounded, but on the other hand acknowledging that Florida’s “tax credit scholarships were 43% more likely to attend four-year college than like students in public schools, and up to 20% more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees.”

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

An elementary school teacher would likely ask her students: “What’s wrong with this picture?” Does this actually sound like public education is performing adequately? It is undeniably true that Florida Republican legislators are funding more for private schools while underfunding more for public schools. This is happening all the while that public education teachers are threatened if they dare to speak the truth about the history of slavery in our country or speak openly about minorities such as transgender or gay people. Furthermore, our governor openly has tried to shame young people who dared to wear masks during the pandemic. Can we not speculate that public education personnel and students are under attack by our own government officials?

Ralph Madison, St. Petersburg

Don’t put down others

Courts foil DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ+ laws | July 6

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attitude toward the LGBTQ+ community shows his own weakness as a politician. Anyone who needs to put a group down to make himself known will not look stronger, but rather more desperate. If you are secure in your own masculinity, you should not feel the need to shout about it nor should you have to denigrate others.

Jackie Kanner, St. Petersburg

Catholic teachings

Governor talking about his faith as a Catholic | July 6

Now that our governor is using his Roman Catholicism as a talking point during his campaign speeches, let’s look at something he’s done versus what his church teaches. He spearheaded and succeeded in making the death penalty just an 8-4 jury decision rather than unanimous. What does his church teach? Quoting from the April 29, 2021, issue of the U.S. Catholic magazine: “With change in the Catechism in 2018 and Pope Francis’s binding teachings in Fratelli Tutti in 2020, the faithful are today morally obliged to oppose the death penalty, may not promote or support executions, and may not in good conscience endorse laws that allow capital punishment.”

Paul Cooper, St. Petersburg

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site