Correctional Facility Hosts Educational Fair

By Samantha Schmieder / Gazette.Net Inmates at Montgomery County Correctional Facility participated in its first-ever educational fair on Wednesday, allowing them to see the many options available once released. Participating vendors included the University of Maryland University College, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, the Aesthetics Institute of Cosmetology, and many other colleges, GED programs,

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Our View: Prisoner Education a Step Toward Better Life

By The Jackson Sun 

People go to prison for reasons too many to mention. But what we know is that, except for the most dangerous violent criminals, the vast majority of prisoners someday will get out and return to their home communities. What happens to them next can mean the difference between lifelong problems and becoming productive citizens. A small program at Lipscomb University in Nashville is a good model that can offer hope and opportunity to prisoners who are serious about turning their lives around.  Image courtesy

On Dec. 13, Lipscomb will graduate nine inmates with post-secondary associate’s degrees. Eight will come from the Tennessee Prison for Women, and one from another penal institution. These women have spent their time behind bars working to improve their lives through education. Lipscomb began this program eight years ago. It provides professors who go to the prison each week to conduct college classes. Lipscomb also has regular students join in classes held at the prison. This helps offer inmates a valuable non-prison point of view of life, along with a more real-world mix of people they someday will meet in the workplace.

In its essence, prison is punishment for breaking the law. It is not a pleasant environment, and those who have been there will attest that there are no “country club” prisons. But that doesn’t have to mean that some inmates can begin to improve their lives, even while serving their sentences.

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A Second Chance Through Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative

Image courtesy vimeo.comBy Emily Aronson, Office of Communications

Two years ago, Reginald Murph was in prison for the second time. Today, he is a sophomore at Rutgers University. He credits Princeton University’s Prison Teaching Initiative with helping give him a second chance.

The Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI) offers credit-earning college courses to inmates at three New Jersey correctional facilities. More than 70 Princeton faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and alumni volunteer to teach classes in English, mathematics, science and other subjects spanning the liberal arts.

Since the program began eight years ago, nearly 500 inmates have earned college credits by taking PTI classes. Credits may be transferred to any community college in New Jersey as well as a handful of public colleges and universities in the state.

“The Princeton classes made me feel like a student. And feeling like a student in prison was a really good feeling,” said Murph, who is studying social work at Rutgers-New Brunswick. “To sit at my desk and really focus on writing an essay. To step outside of myself for an hour and feel like a somewhat normal person.

“I was doing something in prison. I didn’t lose my hope. A lot of people in prison can go backwards, or stay the same. Or you can propel forward,” Murph continued. “Education is necessary to propel forward.”

PTI’s mission is to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates in the state, especially among poor and minority communities, by providing inmates with the education and skills they need to lead productive, intellectually engaged lives while in prison and when they get out.

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Blackstone Career Institute Distance Learning

Founded in 1890, Blackstone Career Institute is one of the oldest distance learning schools in the U.S.  Over 125,000 people have changed their lives by taking a course with Blackstone. We have a long history of providing convenient and affordable education for prison inmates. Education is the cornerstone of success and has proven benefits for

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iStudy @ Ole Miss | iStudy Ole Miss

As far as can tell, Ole Miss offers a traditional, paper-based correspondence program called iStudy @ Ole Miss. has been unable to confirm whether or not this program remains functional.  The information offered below may be unreliable. Contact iStudy @ Ole Miss If you need assistance or have questions, please contact Ole Miss

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North Carolina's Innovative Program for Prisoners

The North Carolina Department of Correction works with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Friday Center for Continuing Education to provide a variety of tuition-free university courses and educational services to inmates. Only those incarcerated in the North Carolina prison system qualify for the Correctional Education Program.

Since 1974, 167 participants in Correctional Education’s on-campus study-release program have earned college degrees, including three doctorates and eighteen master of arts or master of science degrees. Many have gone on to thrive in professional jobs. The recidivism rate of study-release participants is only 7 percent.  Image courtesy

Who is Eligible?

Incarcerated individuals must meet academic and sentence criteria for eligibility. The academic criteria are a GED score of at least 250, a WRAT reading grade level of at least 10.0, or prior college (or community college) academic credits. The sentence criteria exclude all Class A and Class B felons, as well as other adult offenders whose parole eligibility and discharge dates are more than 10 years in the future. The 18- to 25-year-old individuals funded by Federal Youth Offender Act grants must be within five years of parole eligibility or discharge date.

The Procedure

Qualified inmates should contact a Programs or Education staff member, preferably their case worker, at their correctional facility

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The Demise of Pell Grants

Dr. John Marc Taylor, Ph.D.

They were code words. Employed in the opening salvos of the Reagan Revolution, the irresponsible “unwed mother”, lazy “welfare queen”, parasitic “drug dealer” and dangerous “gang-banger” were not-so-subtle euphemisms for the poor and people of color. The conservative movement’s concerted onslaught on the more inclusive entitlement and social safety net programs inspired by the New Deal era of government commenced, however, against the politically powerless and publicly vilified prisoner.  Jon Marc Taylor, Ph.D. / Image courtesy

While the more overt War on Drugs with the attendant abolition of parole, mandatory minimum sentences, and expanded death penalty would take years to enact and for the crushing consequences to be felt, the initial forays against prisoners was fired by Virginia Congressman William Whitehurst in 1982, when he submitted legislation to rollback inmate Pell Grant disbursements. By 1991, senators and representatives from both parties (primarily from the old Confederacy) repeatedly introduced legislation to exclude “any individual who is incarcerated in any federal or state penal institution” from qualifying for Pell Grant assistance. For a decade, the various annual exclusion-fest amendments either did not make it out of their committees, or if passed on floor votes, were struck in the joint resolution committees.

Then in 1991, the primary force behind the eventually successful exclusionary legislation, Senator Jesse Helms, pontificated “the American taxpayers are being forced to pay taxes to provide free college tuitions for prisoners at a time when so many law abiding, tax-paying citizens are struggling to find enough money to send their children to college.” The following year, Representative Thomas Coleman claimed 100,000 prisoners unrightfully received Pell Grants. And in 1993, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison stated that prisoners “received as much as $200 million in Pell funds.”

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Speaker Gives Hope To Oregon Inmates

By Cara Pallone
Mitchell S. Jackson / KOBBI R. BLAIR / Statesman JournalMitchell S. Jackson has crossed the yard at Santiam Correctional Institution many times, but never as a free man until Friday.

When he did so last week, the 37-year-old was nervous and excited. Just the day before, his mother had texted him this message: “Every decision you’ve made has brought you to this moment.”

Jackson has not been proud of some of those decisions.

But when he walked into the recreation room at the minimum-security prison in Salem and saw that every seat in the house was occupied by a body in a blue “Oregon Department of Corrections INMATE” shirt, he swelled with pride.

The prisoners in the room did not have to be there to listen to him speak. Jackson knew that from experience.

“It’s hard to describe a moment like this,” he said to his audience, “but it has to be one of the most proud moments of my life.”

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