By Jermaine J. Sims
The current economic situation in America has caused budgetary constraints to ensue within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Because of these constraints, inmate tutors are having both their pay and hours cut. As such, it’s not difficult to imagine a Bureau of Prisons where academic and vocational programs are few and far between. In times such as these, it’s important to keep our heads up and realize that where there is a will, there is a way. This means that it is up to us to make our own path, not the dictates of another. It’s up to us to secure our own education and future.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that true rehabilitation and reform will come from within the prison system. It’s up to us – those who understand the issues at hand from both sides of the fence – to raise our figurative voices and allow our pens to inform and educate the voting public about the importance of prison education. We must show them that the power of education is a transformative one, one that can change the very substance of a person.
I present myself as a case-in-point. I am certainly not the same person I was when I first entered the federal prison system. I credit this to educating myself via the written word, through books. I’m not talking about urban novels or even mass market fiction, though they have their place. I’m talking about books which empower me to live the kind of life I want to live. Books which will allow me to be the professional and father I strive to become.
While advocacy and reform are the paths I choose to follow, letters and words are the building blocks of the steps out of this poverty-ridden and cruel existence. As such, I’ve allowed them to teach me how to grow as a human being and a man. I’ve allowed them to transform me from something less to something so much more. I implore you to allow them to do the same for you, too.