Prison education a proven investment

Gregg Bernstein’s commentary, “Educate offenders to break cycle of arrest and incarceration” (May 30), highlights the important role local universities play in providing prison education and reentry services to men and women in Maryland. As director of the University of Baltimore’s Second Chance College Program, I have observed how vital prison education is to improving the lives of incarcerated students. I have spent the past two years inside Jessup Correctional Institution providing college courses to approximately 50 men.

College has afforded our incarcerated students a real opportunity to turn their lives into something meaningful. It has transformed their way of thinking about themselves and the world around them. As Mr. Bernstein noted, Goucher College and the University of Maryland are also playing a major role in serving citizens with criminal records. University of Baltimore, Anne Arundel Community College, Wor-Wic Community College, and Johns Hopkins University are also doing their part in serving this population.

Mr. Bernstein calls for our elected officials to create strategies to keep people out of prison. While new programs and strategies are always welcomed, I would first encourage our elected officials to develop ways to invest in the existing prison education and reentry programs run by higher education institutions. There is a lot of good work happening on campuses throughout the state – we just need to acknowledge it, highlight it and invest more resources into it.

Andrea Cantora, Baltimore

The writer is an assistant professor in the University of Baltimore’s School of Criminal Justice and director of UB’s Second Chance Pell program.

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