We should applaud law makers in New Hampshire for reversing severe the cuts to prison rehabilitation and education programs proposed in Gov. Chris Sununu’s budget. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the cuts would end up costing the state more money than they would save. This is a point that is being better understood by people on both sides of the political aisle. The governor’s proposed budget included cuts to prison education and transitional housing programs that would have closed the state prison high school and potentially laid off dozens of teachers.
Some lawmakers on the House Finance Committee are taking steps to restore some of the dollars that help rehabilitate inmates. “All seven of us felt that the way to keep them out of prison was to try to train them so that when they served their sentences, they got out and they’re back in the public, they had something to fall back on, not crime,” said Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson. The funding comes with an agreement for the prison high school to use more online education, namely the Virtual Learning Academy charter school. But, the bottom line is that this is still a win for Prison Education advocates.
For activists, this is about more than the bottom line. Those who have been in the state prison say their path to rehabilitation started in the education program. “It’s an environment within the prison environment that is not only a safe place but a place where possibilities can happen,” said Joseph Lascaze, of the ACLU-New Hampshire. I can attest to this myself. Prison Education offers hope.