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Former prisoners are going back to work and school with the help of both Democrats and Republicans.

USA TODAY

We should look to the humanities to help prisoners prepare for the business of living.

What reaction does the term “prison education” evoke?

For many, the immediate thought is vocational training with the goal of teaching inmates practical skills that theoretically provide connections to work in the “real world” after release. 

This fits perfectly with the American mindset about education and work generally: the only truly valuable education is one that connects the student directly to employment. Everything else is a luxury at best, or a waste of time and money at worst.

But for all the supposed realism and pragmatism of this view, for many behind bars, it may be the least practical and effective approach from the