Overview of North Carolina’s Prison Education Programs

By Christopher Zoukis

Like many other states, North Carolina’s approach to prison education is multi-tiered and varied.  With inmates coming from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational levels, the population of NC prisoners has access to many programs suited to their needs.  Not only does the North Carolina Department of Corrections offer basic adult education to inmates, they partner with universities and community colleges statewide to offer qualifying inmates access to higher education. 

Why Education in NC Prisons? 

The NC vision for education isn’t much different than other state programs that hold the view that if you educate prisoners, give them a chance to earn an income through legitimate forms of employment, you will reduce recidivism.  In a news article in the Star News Online, the reporter acknowledged that North Carolina is among a handful of states that make “inmate education a Image courtesy priority.”  An official at the Department of Corrections stated clearly that they have the inmates as a “captured audience.”  They then treat this audience to a regimen of programs that are ultimately good for them—and many inmates realize the good it does them as they participate in their own educational growth.

Addressing Educational Needs

Many inmates require educational programs that teach the basics—reading and writing.  There are programs that impart basic literacy skills to prisoners statewide.  Many inmates, of course, have basic skills but do not have a diploma or GED that would make them more employable upon release.  So, the prison system offers coursework that allows inmates to brush up their skills and acquire the certifications they need to eventually gain legitimate work.  Other programs address vocational skills that help inmates develop specific career skills for specific types of jobs.  Gaining experience in a field is an important asset for prisoners to obtain in order to qualify for jobs upon their release.

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Securing The Right Transfer in the Federal Bureau of Prisons

By Christopher Zoukis and Jack Donson

This article seeks to clarify the process, and variables, associated with seeking a transfer to a different prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  This information is being disseminated in the hopes that it will help to guide current and future federal inmates in seeking a transfer to the prison of their choosing.  It aims to inform those in need of this information so that they have the tools they need to effectively advocate for themselves, and help to steer readers away from costly “prison transfer” services which are essentially scams of prisoners and their families.

Initial Designation at a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility

Federal prisoners are not given a choice in which prison they are first designated to.  This designation is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, Texas.  Initial designation determinations are based upon a number of factors.  These factors are scored using the BOP’s Custody and Classification Form, which takes into account length of sentence, charge, criminal history, and a number of other factors, such as release destination, history of escapes, and self-surrender status.

Differences Between Initial Designation and Transfer

The process of seeking a transfer post-initial designation is different.  These determinations are primarily made by the federal inmate’s unit team at their local prison, not at the DSCC.  However, the process, and qualifications, to seek a transfer are anything but simple.  What follows are tips about the practice of seeking a transfer within the BOP.

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Virginia Prisoner Pardoned After Accuser Admits She Lied

By Prison Legal News

Everyone in Virginia’s criminal justice system knew that Johnathan Christopher Montgomery was innocent of the crimes for which he’d been convicted.

His accuser had recanted her testimony and admitted she lied to police about being molested by Montgomery more than a dozen years earlier. And yet the state continued to deny him his freedom until an advocacy organization for the wrongly convicted petitioned for his release.

Finally, on November 20, 2012, more than four years after he was sent to prison for aggravated sexual battery and lesser charges – and two days before Thanksgiving –Montgomery was conditionally pardoned by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and walked out of the Greensville Correctional Center.

“The truth sets you free,” Montgomery told reporters outside the facility.

His accuser, Elizabeth Paige Coast, had told police that Montgomery sexually abused her in 2000 when she was 10 years old and he was 14 and lived across the street from Coast’s grandmother in Hampton. Coast invented the story, she reportedly told investigators, because she was embarrassed and panicked when her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites.

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Tom Clements Death: Prison Officials Acknowledge Chief's Death Tied To Solitary Confinement Policies

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Tom Clements, Chief Executive Director of Colorado Corrections was known by his friends, family, and affiliates as a compassionate man, dedicated to changing how Colorado Corrections deals with violent inmates locked away into solitary confinement for of lengthy periods of time.  Photo courtesy

Clements had strong aspiration to do what it takes to build safe communities in Colorado. He was a visionary who foresaw how creating programs for inmates who are released from solitary confinement to society is connected to lowering recidivism rates, resulting in crime free neighborhoods.

Clements was a former director of operations for Missouri’s twenty-one adult correctional institutions and overall management of 30,500 incarcerated offenders since 2007. He served in statewide leadership roles within the adult probation and parole system and in Missouri’s adult correctional institutions system until he was hired by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in 2010 as Chief Executive Director of Colorado Corrections.  

When Governor Hickenlooper made the decision to hire Clements he announced, “Tom Clements has built a distinguished career working his up through the ranks in the Missouri corrections system.”

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