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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Obama chooses education over prison

Illustration by Nicole Jackson

$80 billion is the amount of money that could “eliminate tuition at every public college and university in America.”

As Obama pushes to find a way to end mass incarceration, local and state prison programs continue to become overcrowded.

I agree with President Obama, I think that our prison systems are focused more on putting people behind bars than reducing the number of people who are entering prison. Obama is choosing to focus on the topics that do matter in American society, such as providing more opportunities for young minority men, reducing the prison population, moderating mandatory minimum sentencing as well as reimposing voting rights to felons.

Obama’s view on society’s take on prison is accurate. We joke about prison conditions but have no intention of fixing it. While prison systems become overcrowded and worsen, society continues to view prison as a rape yard or “Orange Is The New Black.”

Locking people in cells all day for days, even years on end, will not make us safer. Education has always been placed on the back burner for American society.

Tuition continues to increase by the thousands year after year with all this money being spent toward a prison system that has proven to not be effective. Young adults are missing out on the opportunity to get an education at a four-year university because they can’t afford to pay for school.

Why would a developed country focus more effort on putting people behind bars than providing their citizens with an education?

Yes, there are scholarships and financial aid, but not everyone is lucky enough to depend on that alone. When the President of the United States can tweet that we have wasted $80 billion on our prison system and could have used that toward our public universities and colleges, then the issue becomes obvious.

The United States government does not value education. That is the message that Obama is showing to American voters.

Once again society has overlooked what is considered a joking matter. There is nothing funny about our government wasting money on a prison system that does more harm than help to society.

It’s time that we, as students and voters, make it clear that education deserves the same amount of money that we are allowing to be put into our prison systems. Everyone deserves a shot at an education. Those who are paying out of pocket for an education deserve to be provided with educational institutions who want to see students thrive.

Education should not depend on money, and the government should not put money into systems that do nothing positive for society.

Being raped in prison is no joke. Being cheated out of an education because you cannot afford one is no joke either.

Obama’s call for us to rethink how money could and should be spent is effective. It reminds voters, like myself, to question the laws and policies we have in place now.

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or theorion_news on Twitter.

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