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Education Crime The Internet News

Online Learning Becomes Court-Ordered Community Service 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-crime-with-knowledge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo Finance reports that convicted criminal offenders can serve their court-ordered community service hours online by taking educational courses through Community Service Help. According to the article, there is a high correlation between criminal activity and lack of education. Who knew? 'About 40 percent of all U.S. prison inmates never finished high school, and nearly 44 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school. More current data shows that hasn't changed. In Washington, D.C., for instance, 44 percent of Department of Corrections inmates are not high school graduates. Less than 2 percent had 16 years or more of schooling.'"
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Online Learning Becomes Court-Ordered Community Service

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  • Great idea! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @08:55AM (#39317585)

    More criminals online. Exactly what we needed.

  • Once again (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday March 11, 2012 @08:58AM (#39317593)
    Correlation != cause. Educating them will just mean smarter criminals. Not everyone can work in banking.
    • Re:Once again (Score:5, Informative)

      by bipbop (1144919) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:00AM (#39317603)
      Yes, only the smart criminals can work in banking!
      • by Idbar (1034346)
        See, I came to the comments for the same reason. Of course lack of education ends in you having to steal (even kill) when you can't find a job to support your activities (namely, family, drugs or whatever). But also this is not the reason the penal system is full with them, but also because they cannot afford a pool of lawyers to keep them out of there, as the bankers do.
    • Educating them will just mean smarter criminals. Not everyone can work in banking.

      But the banks are hiring again, and we're running out of educated sociopaths, so they'll have to make do with educated convicts.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      True ... some will need to go into Law or Politics.

    • Re:Once again (Score:5, Informative)

      by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:28AM (#39317709) Homepage

      You raise, a good point. The evidence suggests that to some extent criminals lack of education is caused by other variables that lead to both to criminality and make completing school more difficult. In particular, criminals have on average lower intelligence, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201006/why-criminals-are-less-intelligent-non-criminals [psychologytoday.com] poor impulse control,http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=101809 [psychiatryonline.org] and extremely high self-esteem ,http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/papers/baumeistersmartboden1996%5B1%5D.pdf [emotionalcompetency.com], all of which are associated with doing poorly in school.

      However, there's also evidence that some amount of criminal behavior is due to lower education reducing work opportunities. The most successful programs at reducing recidivism are those which educate the convicts. https://www.stcloudstate.edu/continuingstudies/distance/documents/CollegeEducationandRecidivismEducatingCriminalsisMeritorious1997.pdf [stcloudstate.edu] although the exact causes of this are unclear http://www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/recidivism/orepredprg.pdf [bop.gov]. So, while there is a correlation v. causation issue, it does look like education genuinely helps.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Maybe the real reason is that educated criminals just commit legal crimes. I've recently read a study which said that being better off is associated with lack of empathy, lack of a sense of right and wrong, and lack of self reflection.
        So I have my doubts about the project. What if (in contrast to g'parent post) they do become bankers? Is that really better? They can do much more harm there than as ordinary criminals, and because it's legal we can't lock 'm up any more.

        • by neonKow (1239288)

          There may be factors that make you more likely to be a criminal, but there's no "criminal gene." These are still human beings, and generally people just want life not to suck. They're not thinking, "oh, whatever I do MUST be immoral, so when I have an education, I will just be a a BETTER criminal." The thing about having an education is that suddenly a lot of legal and upstanding ways to make money open up, and they tend to be more attractive than crime and the risk of prison.

        • I've recently read a study which said that being better off is associated with lack of empathy, lack of a sense of right and wrong, and lack of self reflection.

          Stop making conclusions off /. headlines. If you would have actually read that study or read the comments on that story then you would know that the methodology was bunk and the study shouldn't be used to make conclusions about anything.

          Also, your argument that it may be better for them to be petty criminals than bankers is equally weak. Let's rewind 150 years and use that argument: "It's probably better that they remain slaves, after all, they can't hurt anyone chained up like that."

          If you're going to comm

      • Hey, thanks for that great writeup. I seem to never have mod points when I'd want to use them.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        I don't believe lack of education makes one more likely to commit crime, only more likely to get caught. Smart and educated criminals will get away with their crime far more often than those who are stupid and lack education.

      • by sjames (1099)

        I'm not sure what can be done about IQ, but it is entirely possible that where education is enforced, they might learn to exert better impulse control and also that they're mot as smart as they think they are.

    • I don't see why this was moderated to "funny"...

      As some one else said, there are a lot of reasons why people drop out of high school. Many of the dropouts I know dropped out because they were already into criminal behavior, and school "cramped their style". Did dropping out cause their criminal activity, as these studies suggest? No, quite the opposite!

      • Does the study suggest that dropping out causes criminal behavior (or just increases)? Everyone in prison isn't necessarily pathologically anti social or destructive, and even teenagers mellow out eventually.
      • I wonder if it would help if our (at least in the US) public school system wasn't such a piece of garbage...

      • You've got a UID in the lower 30% and you haven't realized it's all the fault of the education system for not recognizing that the, ummmm, difficult and underachieving students are all special snowflakes and unrecognized geniuses?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > Educating them will just mean smarter criminals.

      Not true! They could become lawyers!

      Oh...

    • Re:Once again (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @10:26AM (#39317983) Homepage

      But very few can work in unskilled labor, those jobs are practically going away not to mention when the going gets tough you're in competition with all the skilled labor too. I remember there was an article here in Norway about a position as warehouse assistant, they got 3-400 applicants and the job market here isn't even tough. If it had been I'm guessing 1000+ applicants because it's the kind of job absolutely everyone can do. But there's a very limited number of McJobs and even most of those want people that have worked retail before plus domain experience like working with food. You don't need qualifications to stand on the street corner and sell drugs or break windows and steal shit. Of course some would continue to be criminals, but I think a lot of them did because they failed at everything else.

      Of course this is just highly anecdotal, but at least on my school I'd say there was a group of losers that compensated by being badass. Drinking, smoking, talking tough and following through if necessary, breaking the rules - if they couldn't be successful at school they'd make their own kind of success. They were attractive to the kind of girls that like "bad boys" too, that was important in that age. Particularly since those that were neither badass nor did well weren't treated very nice. But once that becomes the defining order, it escalates. You're not drinking beers to be badass, you're drinking liquor. Or you're doing drugs. You're not breaking school rules, you're shoplifting. And as everyone else's opinion of you deteriorates - other school mates, parents etc. your standing in the gang only becomes more important.

      I'm not talking about street gangs in New York here, I'm talking about a fairly quiet suburb in low crime Norway. I'm thinking this is a pattern that exists more or less all over the world, of course it doesn't explain all crime but I think it explains a lot of petty crime, the kind people say came from "hanging with a bad crowd". And yes, I'd say failing at school is a leading cause as to why people start doing that. I'm not so sure it'll help though, most of these people were failing for a reason and they're not going to be the brightest even if they get remedial education. But maybe it can give them some sense of achievement on the other scale, they might not win any Nobel prizes but they're making a honest living. It's at least a chance to getting out of a bad circle if they're willing to take it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You don't need qualifications to stand on the street corner and sell drugs or break windows and steal shit. Of course some would continue to be criminals, but I think a lot of them did because they failed at everything else.

        Which is why in rich countries it might not be such a bad idea to give everyone a basic income ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income [wikipedia.org] ), and have compulsory high-quality preschool education so that at least more grow up to be useful people. Unless you execute them, you're going to pay for these "dropouts" one way or another. If there are fewer and fewer jobs for their ability what do we expect them to do? Die? No matter how much you train a dog it's not going to write automation programs for Google Dat

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          basic income as a general term would cover the system in use in norway, yet people flock to a basic job opportunity(instead of studying to be a nurse for example, though I'd rather be a janitor than a nurse but that's just me).

          it doesn't help with the need to have something to do, to have some outside purpose for your daily routine.

          Judge Dredd while posing as a comic book about violent criminals and an equally violent sheriff is actually about this, you still have to do something with your time and even a m

          • though I'd rather be a janitor than a nurse but that's just me

            I think this quote says a lot about society, in many ways. I'd rather be a janitor than a nurse, too. Even if nurses were paid much more than they are and janitors paid slightly less.

        • Agreed. It's only going to get worse, the amount of education required will only increase with time as more and more advanced work is automated.

    • 'About 40 percent of all U.S. prison inmates never finished high school, and nearly 44 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school.

      Oh my god! This means that 60% of prison inmates did finish high school, and 56% of jail inmates finished high school too! Surely this means that we should ban all high schools!

  • Uhh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does that mean educated people are less criminal or just better in hiding their crimes ?

    And in the latter case, doe we really want to educate criminals ?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      My thought exactly. The people incarcerated are generally just even stupider than cops...
      • by kanweg (771128)

        That wouldn't explain the high percentage of the US population in jail.

        Bert
        Who remembers an item by Michael Moore (or an assistant of his, if I recall correctly), where a guy couldn't become a cop because there is an intelligence test for cops and if you're too smart you can't be hired. The last sentence of the cops' spokesman before the door is closed is priceless: We're there to protect crime. The reporter is flabbergasted: Did he really say that?

        • That wouldn't explain the high percentage of the US population in jail.

          The "war on drugs," or more accurately, "prosecuting people for victimless crimes," is probably a pretty good explanation...

    • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:26AM (#39317697) Journal

      A lot of criminals commit crimes because they don't believe that they have any options. You put them in prison and they come out and still can't get a job (especially now that they have a record), so what do they do? Commit more crimes. Give them some useful skills, and they see that they do have a choice.

      A small minority are just naturally and incurably sociopathic. Most of these work in management...

      • by swillden (191260)

        You put them in prison and they come out and still can't get a job (especially now that they have a record), so what do they do? Commit more crimes. Give them some useful skills, and they see that they do have a choice.

        This presumes that having skills gives them a choice. Unfortunately, their record means getting a job is still basically impossible. Perhaps the best education we could give them is to teach them how to start and run successful small businesses, because people don't check the records of those they do business with. Of course, the ex-con had better not need a bank loan. And an education in business administration may just make an ex-con a more effective/efficient drug dealer.

        I don't know that there's a

      • by PJ6 (1151747)

        A lot of criminals commit crimes because they don't believe that they have any options. You put them in prison and they come out and still can't get a job (especially now that they have a record), so what do they do? Commit more crimes. Give them some useful skills, and they see that they do have a choice.

        A small minority are just naturally and incurably sociopathic. Most of these work in management...

        It is not a small minority. 1 in 24 people are sociopaths and in prison populations that ratio rises to nearly half [wikipedia.org] .

        Most are in jail not because they lack education, but because it's where they belong.

  • by awilden (110846) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:03AM (#39317615)
    Of course there are many reasons that people don't finish school. Sometimes it's because they're not smart enough. Other times it's because they're bored out of their skulls, or family issues are pulling them away, or a million other reasons. Maybe this should be interpreted as yet another reason that we need to revamp schools so that they do more than just deliver a "one-size-fits-all" education to the middle of the bell curve. Education is expensive, but prison is far more expensive.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So it makes sense to do this. The jails are overcrowded already and it forces people to get educated, which should help them gets jobs. I would image many of people are doing this because a) they are bored, b) need money so they steal or c stupid or d) a combination of a, b, and c.

    • You think that's a good thing? Think again:

      1. These people have a prior conviction.
      2. Any job these people could possibly apply for will be competed over by far more applicants than there are jobs.
      3. To have ANY chance to be chosen, these people would have to offer their workforce at a far lower price than anyone else.

      In a nutshell, if it accomplishes anything, it's more pressure on "honest" people and, in the end, lower wages for everyone.

      • It's hinted at in Shawshank Redemption, but I'm pretty sure based on other things I've seen/read that there's an element of reality behind it.

        Even workfare programs can have the same effect; force dolites to sweep the streets and eventually the street sweepers end up on the dole.

        • Work doesn't magically multiply. If you give a job to someone, someone else is going to be short of a job. If you create a low wage alternative, companies will follow and refuse to pay more than that low wage alternative asks.

          For reference, see outsourcing.

  • I don't think they became criminals because they didn't finish high school. Perhaps they didn't finish high school because they were already inclined to become criminals. My logic is as sound as theirs.
  • Repeated (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:20AM (#39317677)

    33% of statistics are simply repeated. Of cited statistics 67% are not repeated. More recently 33% of statistics were repeated.

  • by jouassou (1854178) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:24AM (#39317691) Homepage
    "...give me all yo' money, or I'll bust yo' ass like Atahualpa at Cajamarca!"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It could be that there's another underlying cause that tends to make one act criminally and avoid education...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The sort of people sufficiently compliant to complete high school are the sort of people sufficiently compliant to think that we must do what we're told.

    I have excellent school and university grades (mathematics, not some wishy social science). It was a waste of fucking time. I've stopped respecting the law. I shouldn't have bothered in the first place. Maybe one day I'll end up in jail. Who cares? Most people were quicker than me and learnt this lesson earlier.

    And before you wonder, no, most people aren't

    • by jouassou (1854178)

      I have excellent school and university grades. It was a waste of fucking time. I've stopped respecting the law.

      I don't get your reasoning; the law didn't force you to attend university, you made that choice.

  • Did graduate? We should stop educating people because it leads to a life of crime. 3 out of 5 people in jail did graduate compared to 2 out of 5.. Clearly graduation is correlated with a life of crime. Plus who wants smart criminals?

  • The obvious solution is to lower the requirements for gradution. Give everyone a sticker star, everyone's special. After all, if you have the right to a public education, why not have the right to a diploma too? Then once everyone has a piece of paper they didn't do any work to get, none of the criminals will have graduated from high school. Problem solved.
  • There is a correlation between a lack of education and a conviction.

    If you're educated enough you can easily avoid jail time.

  • the online learning comprises embedded youtube khanacademy.org videos.. i wonder if they are breaking any copyright laws by using these
  • It's all about spin. "I sentence you to 30 days of reeducation." How does that sound?

  • My only question is where the funding for this kind of stuff is coming from? Is it all gonna be taxpayer dollars, or is there going to be a "Serial Murderer" discount at your nearest University of Phoenix?
  • The educated criminals go into politics.

  • ...at criminal activity and lack of education.

  • Alrighty since we are discussing schooling here and just recently been exchanging emails with a friend who grew up in France, came to US many years ago and recently retired. Below are some of her thoughts:

    Computer sciences was my major. It was not taught when I grew up in France, and my minor a French teaching degree so that I could teach French after retirement. My education was completed in France where I obtained a master's degree in Math/English. I completed college here to show that I also had an Ame

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