They say that the main difference between an intelligent criminal and a dumb criminal is the sophistication of the crime. Making prisoners more smarter, most likely will just make them more clever at committing the crime next time.
However, if criminals learned how to approach a situation without the need to commit a crime, then they have more options to make a good choice the next time a situation arises.
Deryl Dedmon was 19 when he was sentenced to two concurrent life prison terms for committing capital murder and a hate crime. Deryl says that he is a changed man. He wishes he can go back in time an undo what he did. I Don't Even Care what he says. My belief is that regardless of what he says, after a certain amount of time goes by he will indeed be a changed man. Some killers do not change. Some change for the worse. So how do you distinguish them? Start with a life prison term sentenced to a person under age 28 (28 works for me at the moment). For example: Deryl. Insert a clause that states that Deryl will have a reduced sentence if the following conditions are met: He obtains a medical degree within ten years. He revokes his citizenship. He agrees never to return to the USA. He agrees to practice medicine in whichever developing nation he is sent to. If he meets these conditions within ten years, then he is released after serving ten years. I believe that a 29 yr old man who exerted the effort to obtain a medical degree while serving hard time can easily be distinguished from an uneducated 19 yr old who committed murder and a hate crime. This has benefits: A life is not wasted behind bars. It saves tax dollars. Humanity gets a return on its 10 yr investment in the form of a doctor who will go to a place in the world that desperately needs doctors. This also has a down-side: The ambiguous legality of revoking citizenship and shipping a convicted murderer to another nation. Some might argue that there is no guarantee he will practice medicine. He went to the trouble of getting the degree, didn't he? He knew all along that he would be sent to Kenya or some such place. He knew he'd be arrested and thrown back in jail for the rest of his life if he ever got caught on US soil. If he went to the trouble of learning the language while in prison, all the better. If he's really not practicing medicine... I'm not sure it matters. He met the conditions as stated. Should we insert another condition that he must practice medicine while able? Ok. Then we'll check up on him periodically. If we find he's not practicing, then what? Drag him back to prison I suppose. Then he can play Dr. With his cell mate. It might not have the hoped for ending. But it's worth a try in my opinion. For life sentences. For felons under age 28.