California Prisoners Now Have Ability to get Four-Year Degree

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) along with the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges have recently come to an agreement to allow more and more current prisoners the ability to acquire academic certificates, degrees and credits, which will in most cases transfer over to a four-year university atmosphere. In September of last year, Senator Loni Hancock passed a bill allowing for $2 million to be allocated to four off-site facilities at minimum in order to provide prisoners with the opportunity to earn college credits, gain academic counseling and other support services.

The bill, in theory, will provide the stepping-stones for the rest of the correctional facility college education programs in the nation, and will also increase the number of former or current inmates with college degrees significantly. “We are now inspired to work collaboratively to break down departmental silos to create the best correctional college system in the world,” said the CDCR’s Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education, Brantley Choate, about the CDCR’s involvement with the California Community Colleges. The program will provide inmates of all backgrounds the chance to acquire an educational certificate, associate’s degree, or credits that are able to transfer over to a conventional university upon their release.

Those teaching the inmates will also be allowed to incorporate a teaching style of their own choosing, just in case they feel uncomfortable around the prisoners or feel unsafe in any way. Although the teachers and staff can utilize their own teaching methods, they will need some CDCR facilitated training in order to fully understand how to deal with and be around the incarcerated individuals in case of an emergency or act of disobedience of any kind.

CDCR also is expecting to provide all the tools necessary for this educational growth, from calculators and other technology, to the desks and furniture pieces required within an academic environment. This agreement marks the first time ever where the state has actually funded an organization for providing educational services to our correctional facilities, and will hopefully spark a whole new movement within the industry and the United States.