Fighting to receive rights, benefits, or courtesies extended to other citizens is a major component of being a registered citizen in America.
In states across America, registrants are fighting to be able to live in neighborhoods where they can raise their children, to engage in freedom of speech through social media, to be protected from ex-post facto laws, and to have their voting rights restored.
Now, with the announcement of the new Pell Grants being offered to eligible inmates to enable them to secure college degrees while in prison, a new arena has opened up in which inmates with a sexual offense conviction are in danger of being excluded and face the need to fight for equality.
According to the referenced article, except for those who are serving life sentences, the only category of offenders being considered for exclusion are those with sexual offenses.
Again, according to the article, the motivation for the program is that “…research [has] shown that those prisoners who receive college education in a prison are less likely to commit future crimes…” This begs the question — do we not want those who have committed sex crimes to also be less likely to commit future ones?
The article also states, “…the program aims to give hope to thousands of prisoners to have a brighter future by taking college education….”
Well now – we can’t have those who have committed a sexual crime having hope for a brighter future, can we?
Traditionally, the arena in which registered citizens have fought and, in some cases, won their battles for equal rights is in the courtroom. It is time for that battle to move to the court of public opinion. Is there a civic-minded person who does not want the benefit of reducing future offenses be extended to those who have offended sexually as well as to those who have robbed, burned down buildings, sold drugs, and killed fellow citizens?
Or does the need to punish perpetually every sexual offender outweigh all other concerns?