American prisons are, for the most part, overcrowded warehouses, devoted to the punishment and daily humiliation of their inmates. As such, one would expect that they are probably not very conducive to either the teaching or the studying of philosophy–or any other academic subject matter. But does it have to be that way? Our guest this week is Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy at Northwestern University and at Statesville Correctional Center in Illinois.
What is it
In 1994, Congress eliminated federal funding for college education in prisons. It was, they argued, unjust for prisoners to be eligible for Pell grants when ordinary citizens could not afford higher education. However, research suggests that education in prisons has positive consequences, such as lower recidivism rates and an improved prison environment. So should we have education programs in prisons? Or is the point of prison to punish inmates for their crimes rather than giving them the education many non-felons never receive? John and Ken take a lesson from Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy at Northwestern University and at Stateville Correctional Center near Chicago.