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Giving Compass' Take:
• Fast Company reports on the surprising success of California's prison education system, which offers many face-to-face college classes for inmates and re-entry programs, making a transition to life after incarceration easier.
• How can NGOs get involved? The effort discussed in this piece cites coordination with the Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit which promotes social mobility and equality, perhaps providing an example for similar partnerships.
• No matter what steps are taken to create more educational opportunities within prison walls, another piece urges against falling into the recidivism trap when talking about post-incarceration policy.
In 2014, San Quentin was the only prison in California that offered in-house instructor-led collegiate classes to inmates. For people incarcerated in other jails in the state, the options were just typical GED or technical school programs, or maybe some college-level correspondence courses. Those first two options generally help formerly incarcerated people qualify for entry-level or trade jobs upon release, while the later is fairly difficult to complete: remote-based learning can be both tedious and boring.
Flash forward three years and in 2017, 34 out of the state’s 35 prisons now offer some form of face-to-face college classes in partnership with state and community colleges. So far, 4,500 inmates have enrolled. That makes California a national model for prison system educational reform, according to a new report by Corrections to College California, which is part of Renewing Communities, a joint initiative with the Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit that promotes social mobility and equality, and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.
Having education available in nearly every institution ensures that inmates can continue learning even if they’re transferred. But outside the walls, opportunities for completing those degrees have also expanded. Over the last few years, the California State University and state community college systems have created nearly 50 re-entry programs for former offenders. (Several University of California schools, including UCLA and UC Davis have strong offerings too.) That’s not quite perfect, amounting to about one-third of the eligible programs, but it’s a start, especially considering most offenders resettle within walking distance of these schools.
Read more about the California prison system by Ben Paynter at Fast Company