Class Size Counts… in Prison!

“We found that both the inmate-to-staff ratio and the rate of crowding at an institution (the number of inmates relative to the institution’s rated capacity) are important factors that affect the rate of serious inmate assaults.

Our analysis revealed that a one percentage point increase in a facility’s inmate population over its rated capacity corresponds with an increase in the prison’s annual serious assault rate by 4.09 per 5,000 inmates; and an increase of one inmate in an institution’s inmate-to-custody-staff ratio increases the prison’s annual serious assault rate by approximately 4.5 per 5,000 inmates. The results demonstrate through sound empirical research that there is a direct, statistically significant relationship between resources (bed space and staffing) and institution safety.” — Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2005

So why is it that increased inmate:staff ratios at prisons result in more violence and chaos, while teachers are supposed to be fine with more kids per room? It’s because politicians know that nobody cares about prisoners, so they only have to lie about education.

Let me re-state the conclusion above for emphasis: “There is a direct, statistically significant relationship between resources… and institution safety.” Perry, by reducing teacher staffing levels by 1 out of every 3 teachers – a death rate not seen since the Black Plague of the 1300s – you are directly endangering every single remaining teacher and student.

Did I hear someone out there cry out that students aren’t prisoners? Let me enlighten you. The general population of students includes a significant number of persons on probation and parole. There are a significant number of children that go to juvenile correctional facilities and then return to the general student population. We’ve got kids with severe behavioral problems walking side-by-side with kids high on drugs – and kids trying to sell them. We’ve got inmate hazing bad enough to make some kids want to kill their tormentors. Essentially, we’ve got actual students mixed in with a significant number of persons with criminal experience and/or correctional facility experience.

Quite a few students really are prisoners. Now, at minimum security facilities, the inmate:guard ratio is around 20:1. Fights still happen there when things are overcrowded. Now, one should disclose that the 20:1 ratio doesn’t mean there really is that one guard every 20 inmates. It means there’s one guard working there for every 20 inmates. Most of the time, there’s one guard overseeing 40-60 in a yard – and he’s not teaching. He’s just trying to make sure nobody gets shivved.

Is that what Rick Perry wants for Texas education?

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