A 2013 Rand study found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs had 43% lower odds of re-offending than those who did not.
April 20, 2022

Take a little break from the bad news and read this. If we really believe in rehabilitation, we need more programs like this. Via usnews.com:

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (AP) — Behind a fortress wall and razor wire and a few feet away from California's death row, students at one of the country's most unique colleges discuss the 9/11 attacks and issues of morality, identity and nationalism.

Dressed in matching blue uniforms, the students only break from their discussion when a guard enters the classroom, calling out each man's last name and waiting for them to reply with the last two digits of their inmate number.

They are students at Mount Tamalpais College at San Quentin State Prison, the first accredited junior college in the country based behind bars. Inmates can take classes in literature, astronomy, American government, precalculus and others to earn an Associate of Arts degree.

Named for a mountain near the prison, the college was accredited in January after a 19-member commission from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges determined the extension program based at San Quentin for more than two decades was providing high-quality education.

This is a real college, with real results:

“I wish I had learned this way coming up; instead I was in special ed my whole life," said 49-year-old Derry Brown, whose English 101 class “Cosmopolitan Fictions," was discussing “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” a novel by Mohsin Hamid.

Brown, who is serving a 20-year sentence for burglary and assault, earned his GED in prison and takes pride in now being a college student. He said he may pursue a career in music in his hometown of Los Angeles once he's released next year.

“There is joy in learning — that’s why I want to continue," he said. “Even when I get out, I’m going back to college.”

The $5 million budget is currently funded by private donations.

A 2013 Rand study found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs had 43% lower odds of re-offending than those who did not and were 13% more likely to obtain employment.

Jesse Vasquez, 39, said he was serving multiple life terms for attempted murder, a drive-by shooting and assault with a deadly weapon at a maximum-security facility when he read about the program in the San Quentin News and decided he would transfer there one day.

Vasquez had taken correspondence college programs at other prisons but studying in a classroom at San Quentin helped him see his potential and he realized he was at a “hub of rehabilitation."

The courses challenged him to question what he was learning and helped him build up critical thinking skills, which he called “a pivotal moment."

Nice to see public policy that actually works for people.

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