By Felicity Porter.
Howard Keller is a G.E.D. and vocational tutor, published writer, poet and advocate for higher education in prison. He is also a barber by trade, a graduate of the Stateville accredited Barber College programme. He uses his success as a barber to demonstrate to other potential students, lawmakers, and community members the far reaching benefits of education in prison. He argues “With my barber’s license, once I’m released I don’t have to worry about standing in line for a job from an employer who will likely deny me based on my past. The only line I’ll have to stand in is the one at the beauty supply store, when I’m purchasing my hair clippers. I’m my own employer”
Howard is also driven by a deep sense of personal obligation to helping at-risk youth. He is currently a visiting student of North Park Theological Seminary and a student of Hobe Sound Bible College. His hope is to complete degrees in both Christian Ministry and Alcohol Abuse Counselling.
As a former victim of adolescent alcohol abuse himself, he wants to one day work with organisations that provide counselling and assistance to young people with alcohol addictions.
Howard is the exact kind of person that is required in the community: reliable, hard-working and committed to helping disadvantaged young people succeed.
He is also a glaring example of why the policy of keeping rehabilitated people in prison forever is an ineffective policy and waste of money.
People like Howard should have the chance to prove they’re worthy of parole, and ultimately release.