"Education is the most
powerful weapon which
you can use to change
the world".

-- Nelson Mandela



"Genius without education
is like silver in the mine."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Archive for the ‘prison reform’ Category

Distance Learning: A Transforming Opportunity For Inmates

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

A recent newspaper article, entitled “Shakespeare Behind Bars“, highlights a unique program that pairs inmates with professional actors for training in the dramatic arts. At the end of the training, the inmates perform one of Shakespeare’s plays. For many of the men, the experience is no less than inspirational.

At the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, several inmates taking part in the London Shakespeare Workout Prison Project  even expressed an interest in pursuing acting as a livelihood once they are released from prison.  In fact, 20-year old inmate Najee Bright was offered a full scholarship to study at Oxford University once his prison sentence is completed.   

The innovative act of introducing highly-qualified acting instructors into the prison environment has been enough to give these prisoners a new vision for their lives. The creative arts have always held that sort of power; but education is known to exert its own influence.

Online degrees are another vehicle of hope for inmates who are considering what kind of future life they want for themselves.  And each year, the career choices continue to multiply as advances in technology hone the e-learning instructional process. For example, online education giant Directory of Schools touts 6,765 accredited online degrees on its website. Inmates may shop for education options and, depending upon their prison situation, may enroll in an online school and work toward a college degree. 

Once enrolled, the distance learning classes are easily accessible with a computer, modem and the Internet. When the prison time is over, those who are newly-released could leave prison trained for a new career and a new life. Hopefully, the powers-that-be will offer online education as an option for the general prison population, not just for a sporadic few. 

Just as the London Shakespeare Workout Prison Project has successfully brought the dramatic arts into prisons, online education may offer hope and a renewed vision for transforming lives . 

inmate education, online degrees, online education, online classes, distance learning, prison reform, e-learning

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Prison Inmates Receive Transformation through Distance Learning

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Prison inmates who work toward a college degree are more than half as likely to return to a life of crime. 

In fact, of 43 inmates who earned their associates’s degrees through a specially-funded distance learning program, none have returned to prison according to the Hays Daily News in Kansas.

The power of education to transform lives is being tested in prisons across the country, as inmates take advantage of online degree programs and courses offered through interactive television.   

Prison program offers college opportunities to inmates


Associated Press Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Having spent all of his adult life in prison, 28-year-old Roy Cardoso never had a chance to finish high school.

Charged as an adult in the 1994 slaying of an Altus man, Cardoso was just 15 when he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.

But this summer, Cardoso was able to obtain an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Rose State College through a program that uses interactive television to offer college-level courses to inmates in state prisons.

“It was a tough situation growing up in prison, but this program has given me an opportunity to better myself,” Cardoso said Monday through a video link from a classroom at the John Lilley Correctional Center in Boley.

Cardoso was one of six inmates who appeared in the teleconference with lawmakers, officials from Rose State and the Department of Corrections and representatives from AT nications company’s foundation on Monday awarded a $26,700 grant to the Midwest City-based college so that it can expand its distance-learning program to two more state prisons — Howard McLeod Correctional Center in Atoka and Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

“We are excited to again partner with Rose State to provide the funding for a program that helps to open new doors for inmates and offer the opportunity for an education and a better way of life,” said Don Cain, president of AT money will fund distance-learning equipment like television monitors and video cameras that are linked via a fiber-optic network so that inmates can see and hear their instructors and ask questions.


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Online Degrees Transform Prison Inmates

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that college courses will no longer be offered to prison inmates in Utah after August 2007. And that is too bad for the rest of us.

Although Utah State University is the only college in the state providing degree programs to inmates, the school can no longer afford the bill for the classes, which are offered online and via satellite television.

Over 91 college degrees have been awarded to inmates via USU; and none of these graduates are known to have returned to a life of crime. Similar results regarding the power of education have been reported throughout the national prison system.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 2.1 million prisoners are languishing in state and federal prisons; and 97% will eventually be released into society. Many are serving long sentences and will be ill-prepared to make a successful re-entry into the general population without a college degree or vocational training. In short, a significant percentage will return to criminal activity and to correctional institutions. This disturbing fact should concern all of us.

In a 2003 Bureau of Justice report entitled Education and Correctional Populations, inmates who earn a college degree are less likely to return to prison. They are more likely to find and keep a job. And with new online degree programs being offered every day, it is easier for them to select an area of career interest. Online vocational programs and online professional certificates also increase educational choices.

In 1994, when inmates were declared ineligible for Pell Grants, which offer assistance to low-income students, enrollment in college courses began a steady decline among the prison population. In order to insure safer communities, we should support political candidates who propose comprehensive prison reform legislation that includes adequate funding for these educational programs, which are proven to be effective in the rehabilitation of inmates. This should avert the costs of caring for repeat offenders.

Out of sight should not be out of mind when it comes to those who are incarcerated. Let us support the use of education as a vehicle for change among those who are an invisible, untapped human resource.

online degrees, online education, prison reform

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