California pays more than a billion dollars per year to house prisoners with life sentences. By spending a little more on their education, says one advocate, the overall social costs could be significantly reduced.
Sonoma State University Dean Elaine Leeder is well aware that the self-improvement class she offers for inmates at San Quentin State Prison could draw some measure of participation for less than noble motives. But for the most part, she doesn't think so.
Most students come to her class with a genuine desire for change, says Leeder, and the results can sometimes be seen within the prison itself.