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Jailed students debate: welcome them back

By River Reporter Feb 14, 2012

By Stephanie Davis

As Kingston student James Heslip walked from the prison gates, he must have been wondering what the future held for him.  It has now been confirmed that Kingston University will allow him to continue his studies.

But the question remains, once a sentence has been served, should the scales of justice forever weigh against the future of incarcerated students or should they be given another chance? It appears to me that once the sentence has been served, the debt to society has been paid.

Why should it have an impact on the rest of a student’s career? I think that everyone should have the opportunity to have a fresh start, depending on the severity of the crime. Your past should not haunt you once your debt has been repaid to society.

Wasted development

Universities should consider the talent of a student when considering whether or not to re-admit them to the institution. If, for instance, a student exhibits great skill in their subject of study then it seems to be a pity to waste the development of talent when a student has served their time.

Surely, the type of crime which has been committed should be taken into consideration when assessing a student’s readmission? If the crime is rape or murder, then of course their readmission may be outweighed by the potential threat to other students and members of staff. 

It should also be noted that long-term prisoners are able to access free university courses. There are convicts who have possibly never before completed formal education who are allowed to take a higher education course so why should an ex-convict be denied the opportunity to complete their course?

Serving a sentance should be enough

I do not think that students should be struck off simply for making a mistake. Serving a prison sentence should be enough to pay for breaking the law, especially at such a young age.

Rejection from the university would only make the student feel more of an outcast and perhaps lead them into further criminal behaviour. I am not saying that the university should welcome them back with open arms, but the opportunity should be given for the student to complete their degree.

Pastoral care seems more appropriate than further punitive sanctions such as upholding the expulsion.

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