Does education prevent, or facilitate imprisonment?

By Soliana Asmelash. Soliana is from Eritrea and is a law student in her fourth year of study at the College of Arts and Social Sciences. Please leave any comments below.

Everybody wants to enjoy an easy life but problems and decisions are part of our daily routine no matter who you are. When faced with the hardships of life, decision making can be the vital element in avoiding or solving the crisis ahead. Sometimes, those decisions might not seem the best nor the safest options, but they may in the given scenario ensure a better environment for those we love, even if we end up in prisons. But are they really the solutions? And does education keep us out of prison? The arguments will be discussed below.

What do we do when our back is against the wall, and when all that we have done comes to a fruitless ending? Sometimes the road might lead to a dead end and we have got no choice but to opt for trouble. But who decides on the good and the bad, the right and wrong? It’s all about how we see, perceive, analyze and understand things. There is no universality in that. Doing right or wrong doesn’t depend on what you do for a living or what rank you have. When people with degrees and diplomas are found dead in the streets of a scary neighborhood in a drug sale gone wrong, or murder those from those neighborhoods are the schools to blame? People make up their own minds and choose their paths regardless of what they do or what they have learned.

Many would argue similarly to Victor Hugo, that education can help put a stop to crime and violence. I’m not totally disregarding its role in shaping the minds individuals, I am questioning the degree of its’ impact. Let’s back up a bit before we go imagining youngsters ending up in jail as a result of no education. What does it mean if someone smokes, or drinks or does drugs? Does that mean they are not wise, or are dangerous so as to cause trouble and chaos in the society? Who has made us the judges in this life? Who are we to be classifying people by their acts or whatever message they tend to give off? You have to know yourself first, to even think about judging others. You never know what a person might be going through in life, and so you should not try to judge him/her. Such acts do not define the person but instead unveil the reality of those who talk about them. And even those who do end up in prisons, the convicts when released have a difficult life. Why? Because they are ex-cons. If you seem to think education heals crimes, cures criminals, why when they have learned their lessons in spending time in jail and after getting their education, do you still treat them the same? It’s about how you handle them that makes them the people they are. If people embraced them though they might be different people.

Looking into a bigger phenomenon, slavery was known in almost all civilizations and is said to be part of most religious books. Wasn’t slavery imprisonment? Is it because the people didn’t get enough education or anything at all that they ended up being slaves? But in contrast, the education given supported slavery, be it religious or secular. Education didn’t prevent it but instead promoted it. Even intellectuals like Socrates and Galileo didn’t escape the imprisonment. Learning arguably caused their imprisonment, torture, and death.

Are not things even worse when they are planned by the scholars and intellectuals of the world, especially crimes? All those crime dramas and movies that we see, are written and planned out carefully by the writers so as to interest audiences. Often when real crimes are committed, it’s those with an education who do a greater harm. School might educate someone, but to what extent the education is applied depends on the persons’ attitude. Just because you put all the ingredients in a table doesn’t mean a meal will be cooked. You have to exert effort and get results. But what kinds of results? So just because you put a child in a chair and tell him to learn, he won’t obey. Or even if the child does obey, what he learns, what lessons he takes by heart and what lessons he ignores are upon him to decide. There is nothing stronger than one’s own will, and therefore even if parents or peers tend to influence them, it’s doubtful to how many would perceive things in the way they are being told. For example, one of the brutalities of the 20th C.E. is the Nazi’s Holocaust that resulted into the death of millions of people. When history lessons are given, the impression we have is of the cruelty of Hitler and his regime, but even so there are still some who support Hitler’s actions. So, it’s not schools that shape how people are think, but only they, themselves, are to decide upon that.

Not only secular laws but religious laws also teach and show that crimes are not allowed, and that they have consequences on this earth if not in the afterlife. So people this way or the other know what comes and what happens if they do a certain act. But they still do it. Maybe they have got no choice or maybe that’s what they believe in. For instance, why is self-defense allowed when what you are really doing is killing another human? It’s because you’re saving your life from an attacker who was trying to kill you. So you are let free because on the same crimes that he tried to do but that you actually did, he is the one who is guilty. You had no option, you had to kill the person. It’s a crime, you should go to prison. But you wouldn’t because in some twisted way the law worked in your favor and you are left to go free. In another instance, Death by stoning is practiced in some cultures and religions like the Islam. Hadiths (words and practices of the Prophet Mohammed) supports it and therefore though it might be illegal in other places, it’s allowed in those that practice the Islamic Law. The followers actually learn them in their own schools. So if one of them comes and acts that way in another country, he will end up in prison. The person will end up in prison for something he learnt in school. In this scenario, closing the door to a school would prevent him from going to prison.

Ultimately, whether a person robs, rapes or even kills depends on the way they think. Schools and education may contribute to a person’s ideas, it is only when they accept and believe what they learn that we can say they are being educated. A person may speak all day long but if there are no ears to hear, no hearts to follow and no open mind to analyze, the audience will be left with just words. People don’t always make the best choices but we should refrain from judging them as we are all flawed. We all make sacrifices in life, for family, friends or ourselves, we might end up in jail as a result but perhaps this is because we were taught to protect those around us and love them no matter what. Even if we are taught about the illegality of certain acts, there are often cases in which these can only be considered to be theories in a book, which we are unable to put into practice.

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