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It’s About Education, Not Just Race

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 21, 2019 17:40

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In the year I have been writing for The Latest (ok… it’s not a year until next week), I have never mentioned the gorilla in the room of criminal justice reform: race. Part of the reason is that the solutions are so varied and it's hard to do justice to it all (pun intended) in 500 words. However, a major part of the answer has to do with education. Education is key to lowering both crime and recidivism rates.

I am not trying to say that racism doesn’t exist. We all know it does and because of that, blacks have more of an uphill battle than whites to be a success in life. But I do believe that there are other, more important factors that impact the wage gap between blacks and whites and contribute to why blacks are so disproportionately represented in prison. The biggest factor is and always has been education.

Lack of education is tied to poverty. Anyone who lives below the poverty level constantly worries about putting a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. They cannot take money away from those imperatives to channel it into anything else. It is a fact of life. That is part of what makes it so hard for children to break the cycle of poverty when they grow up. The difference between whites and blacks who live in poverty is shocking (8.7% for whites compared to 21.2% for blacks).

The children of poor families are at higher risk to drop out of high school. This is evident in the drop-out rate statistics: 14% for whites and 31% for blacks fail to finish high school. So begins the wage gap.

The numbers only get more interesting when you break them down further. The wage gap between blacks and whites does narrow among those who obtain more than a four-year college degree, and the higher the degree, the narrower the gap is. One big surprise occurs when you look at the income gaps between men and women. In 2004, black women with a Bachelor’s degree actually earned more than white women by an average of $3,000 per year, while black men were still earning an average of $11,000 less per year.

The wage gap between those with a Master’s degree is almost gone, with blacks earning only $1,000 less on average yearly, while among those who obtain Ph.Ds, blacks have actually reversed the gap (though just barely).

All this leads to just one point; one of the keys to lowering recidivism is education. Education alone has been shown to reduce recidivism by over 40%. It also increases social skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, and family relationships.

Blacks are in prison in disproportionate numbers compared to society in general, so getting a college education while in prison would be a huge step in eliminating the wage gap between blacks and whites. That would go a long way toward lowering the poverty rate in the black community and increasing the high school graduation rate, all of which would benefit society in every way.

Doesn’t it make sense to provide a way to a college education for prison inmates?

W. Scott Cole

Posted on March 21, 2019 17:40

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers considered a bill Monday that would ban forced human microchipping.

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