It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Violence in America: A Sign of Hope from behind Bars

Clearly, the  United States of America is one of the most violent societies in the world. And much of it is of our own doing, a consequence of our obsession with security at home and abroad. We seek security through violent means (and incarceration is definitely a brutal form of violence), and it is virtually a truism that violence only breeds more violence.

One of every hundred citizens of the United States of America is behind bars -- the highest incarceration rate in the world. in 2010, our military budget of $688 billion (as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database for 2010) was greater than the combined military budgets of the next 20 countries in the world's top 21. Two illustrations of why the United States of America ranks 82 out  of 153 countries in the Global Peace Index.

But there are signs of hope. One in particular, a light shining from behind prison walls, had me moved and mesmerized last night.

The PBS News Hour aired a piece last night (July 26) about B.A.s and post-graduate degrees being offered by Bard College to and enthusiastically pursued by hardened felons in five maximum security prisons in New  York state. The News Hour's website summarizes the story as follows:
What college is tougher to get into than Harvard, Princeton or Yale? Bard College. Not the campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., but the one behind bars in five Empire State prisons. The privately funded Bard Prison Initiative is putting convicts through a rigorous B.A. program that would challenge even the smartest Ivy Leaguers.
You can read the transcript of the story and watch the video here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this information.

    Now the challenge, to get all prisons to incorporate this wisdom.

    Or from my point of view, this demonstrates something we have long known but has been blocked by the politics of the prison INDUSTRY.