My name is Heather Jarvis, and this is called “Appetite for Academia.”
According to the National Reentry Resource Center and the Vera Institute of Justice, at least 95 percent of incarcerated people will be released from prison at some point. By the time some of them are, two-thirds of job postings will require some level of college education. What does that mean for me as an inmate? It means I need an education. I’m serving a 10-year sentence, the odds are stacked against me, I’m a violent offender.
I came into prison with a diploma and earnest eagerness to change the trajectory of my life. I want this time to mean something. Here I am, seven years into my sentence, still on the waitlist for college courses. The prison system won’t let me go, they send me and tell me I have too much time, tell me I’m on the list, tell me anything to shut me up. I won’t shut up, I won’t be quiet, and I won’t accept it.
The program offered through Sinclair was [inaudible] Vera’s study. Upon reading it, I was hurt to know they could serve so many more potential students with more funding. Think of all the knowledge I could’ve obtained all these years. It said taxpayers get a 400 percent return over three years, $5 is saved for every dollar spent. I think given a chance, taxpayers would support all of us caught in the masses a chance at redemption. I think they would want us to come out educated and better people.
The study also stated educational programming produces less misconduct, it makes for better inmates. Inmates who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to recidivate. Forty-three percent, that’s almost half of us who would have a better chance at life. Do taxpayers know this? They should.
Am I not worth a dollar? I am a mom, a daughter, and a friend; I am a citizen of this country; I have the right to pursue happiness. For me, pursuing happiness is directly related to pursuing my education. I’m open to knowledge and I have an appetite for academia. I’m calling out to America, feed my hunger. Support higher education prison initiatives.