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Inmate Education Branches Into Banking

By CapeCodToday.com  Photo courtesy Barnstable County Correctional Facility In a effort to help make a better transition to life outside the bars, the Barnstable County Correctional Facility (BCCF) offers re-entry skills courses for inmates.  Among those classes is a financial literacy class taught by Patricia Walsh and Kathy Moorey of Cape Cod Five. “Having financially savvy

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CCEF Awards 23 Scholarships

Creative Corrections Education Foundation (CCEF) is pleased to announce 23 scholarships have been awarded to children with an incarcerated or paroled parent.  This achievement is a milestone for which we are very proud since the Foundation has been operating for less than a year!  We are confident our 2013 goal of at least 40 scholarships

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Peninsula College's Instructor for Prisons Hailed as 'Champion of Change' at White House

By Arwyn Rice

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama recognized Brian Walsh, director of corrections education for Peninsula College, as one of 10 “Champions of Change” in an hour long White House panel and ceremony Thursday.  Brain Walsh / Image courtesy peninsuladailynews.com

“We are here to recognize people who are making extraordinary contributions to their communities,” Obama said.

The award was created through the Connect­Ed Initiative to celebrate educators who are taking creative approaches in using technology to enhance learning for students throughout the nation.

The panel and ceremony was streamed live online on the White House website, and about 50 students and Peninsula College staff gathered in the student center to watch the panel and awards.

The president said that technology and the Internet are the future of education, but first, someone has to try different ways of implementing the tools.

“We’re learning from you, seeing what works, what makes an impact,” he said.

Before Obama spoke, Walsh sat on a panel with four other award recipients to discuss the challenges and advantages of introducing technology in the classroom.

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Innovative Correctional Education Programs: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas

U.S. Department of Education  Image courtesy csgjusticecenter.org

Correctional education is a fundamental component of rehabilitative programming offered in juvenile justice confinement facilities, most American prisons, and many jails and detention centers. Correctional populations are over-represented with individuals having below average levels of educational attainment—education “behind bars” presents an opportunity for the incarcerated to prepare for success upon release. A wide variety of administering entities operate correctional institutions in the United States, and a wide variety of organizations are the providers of onsite prison education programs. Various federal education programs have supported education in State and local prisons; and in 1991, an Office of Correctional Education (OCE) was created by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, to coordinate and improve these efforts to support educational opportunities in correctional settings. The OCE function currently resides in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL). While OCE has a unique coordinating role for correctional education, other administrative units within the Department of Education, support and oversee specific programs that are based in correctional facilities.

Federal Grant Programs – Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities

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Meta-Analysis: Technology-Led Education Drastically Curbs Recidivism

David Nagel

Education programs in prison have a massive impact on recidivism. Based on a new meta-analysis, “inmates who participated in correctional education programs had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who did not.” The study also set out to find whether technology-led instruction among inmates could cut down on recidivism as well as teacher-led instruction. The results were positive.

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Hunger And Education

By Tom Wright 

Learning is a function of hunger. What? That’s right, the hungrier a student is for the mind food you are offering them, the better the learner they are. And they will also digest what you have to offer more readily as well. Regardless of how “smart” you think they are, or what their I. Q. is. Digestion equals the ability and a willingness to apply what has been learned. This is because the easier it is to access skills, information, and tools, the more likely a human being will use them. This rule is immutable. This observation applies to most of the human race, bar none. Other than those who have physical characteristics that prevent them from learning, this rule always applies. And those with physical limitations are a very, very, small portion of the entire populace.  Image courtesy liberalarts.udmercy.edu

I have taught both English and transformational seminars in prisons for years. If you talk to the outside populace about the prison population, the politically correct verbiage is “recidivism” while simultaneously if you ask them, they would not want an ex-con living in their neighborhood. Therefore, their belief in recidivism is either nil, or no. That would mean that most people do not believe that inmates can either be persuaded to live different lives other than crime or they believe that inmates cannot be re-educated with the skills necessary to do so. It is this belief that has to be overcome in society, in order for people to see that anti-recidivism training works, and in turn, to have faith in its outcome. As long as the majority of citizens do not believe in these truths, that people’s lives can be changed for the better, even when you do valuable work to that effect with inmates, they will be at a disadvantage. This disadvantage manifests as blocked opportunities, and unwillingness by those in power to provide a realistic offering of programs that would actually support an inmate in getting a job, a place to stay, and to live a life within an environment that supports the changes that have happened.

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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 prisoneducation.com

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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General Educational Development

By Richard Foster

Ninety-five percent of American prisoners will be released back into society, based on information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. One of the most important goals of the criminal justice system is to reduce the likelihood they will recidivate upon release. Research shows that completion of a GED during incarceration reduces the percent of recidivism by approximately five percent. The Bureau also reports that, “As of June 30, 2009, state and federal correctional authorities had jurisdiction over 1,617,478 prisoners.” Five percent would therefore be equivalent to around 80,000 fewer returnees.  Image courtesy colletonae.com –

According to the U. S. Department of Justice: FY 2011 Budget Request, “As a result of successful law enforcement policies, the number of criminal suspects appearing in federal court continues to grow, as does the number of individuals ordered detained and ultimately incarcerated.” It goes on to explain that the number of FY 2010 prisoners was 215,000 which is expected to rise approximately 3.2% in FY 2011, up 7,000 to 222,000 inmates.

The notion that an increase in the inmate population represents success could be viewed differently. These 7,000 suspects, detainees, and convicts are representative of two categories of offenders. Some are new to the federal system, yet many are returning after previous incarceration. Whether for parole violations or due to new charges being filed, recidivism rates account for an unnecessarily large proportion of those within our prison system. The Pew Center on the States’ report, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons, April 13, 2011, reports that based on the data received by 41 states on prisoners released in 2004, after three years, the normal time period for these studies, there was a recidivism rate of 43.3%. This represents almost  half the inmates released. It is no wonder that the U.S. has the largest percentage of its population incarcerated, as many of those who recidivate end up back in prison. Again, according to the Pew study, “…, incarceration levels had risen to a point where one in 100 American adults was behind bars. A second Pew study the following year added another disturbing dimension to the picture, revealing that one in 31 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole.”

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FUNDING FOR COLLEGE

By James R. Smith

I have been incarcerated for twelve years now and education has and always been my strongest ambition. As a former innate paralegal, I decided to expand my mind by gaining a college education, but the problem was: How was I going to pay for it? That’s the question most individuals who are incarcerated ask themselves, especially if they don’t have family members or friends to help them. But be not despaired.

I was fortunate. A good friend of mine was willing to pay for my initial education. As a result of his kindness, I was able to obtain an Associate’s of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies. But what now! I have a strong desire, like most individuals, to continue my education. However, I am financially unable to do so. I thought about financial aid, but with the congressional elimination of federal Fell Grants in 1994, financial aid was not possible, or so I thought. I learned that “individuals who are currently incarcerated have limited eligibility for federal student aid. Individuals incarcerated in federal or state institutions are eligible only for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSB9G) and Federal Work Study.” The FSBOG provides awards for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Since these are grants the student does not have to work for the money nor does the money have to be repaid.  Image courtesy www.besteducationresources.com

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the starting point for accessing all federal student aid. This is the government form you use to apply for a number of sources of federal student aid, including the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Work-Study. Most states and schools also use information from the FAFSA to award additional types of financial aid, such as, state-need aid and scholarships.

If a person has access to the Internet or has a friend or family member that is willing to help, I have included Web Sites for the purpose of researching Scholarships in order to help those seeking additional funding in order to take college courses or to further their college education.

Seeking Grants and Scholarships takes patience and time so do not despair if one or more places deny your request or application. Keep at it and remember, ‘Hard Work Pays Off.’ Additionally, many grants and scholarships have filing deadlines so one must be diligent in researching and meeting any and all deadlines requested by the school, organization or foundation.

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From Finance to Degrees, U.S. Adult Education is Fraught with Fraud

By Garry W. Johnson

You just can’t trust anybody anymore.  GED and college correspondence graduates are finding more and more that the certificates they worked so hard for (and/or paid through the nose for) are not worth the paper they are printed on. Even worse, some are being ripped off through scholarship scams with nothing to show for their effort but debt.

If you’ve come into the prison system and find yourself sitting in a GED class because your credentials were “unverifiable,” you are not alone. Students across the country are finding GEDs they paid as much as $1,500 for are nothing more than counterfeits produced by a “diploma mill.”  Image courtesy newongumshoe.blogspot.com 

These non-accredited correspondence or distance learning schools have been around for decades, but the internet has now en­abled them to reach a much larger audience and expand more into the GED market.

As Washington continues to monkey with the unstable economy and unemploy­ment skyrockets, high school dropouts are finding themselves with even poorer job prospects and turning to these mills in desperation. Statistics from the official General Education Development (GED) program in North Carolina show 14,364 people completing the test in the fiscal year 2011-2012. That was up from 13,028 in 2009-2010 and 12,817 the year before that.

Instead of increasing their ability to ob­tain or hold a job, the victims of GED scams find themselves squandering money they don’t have and making themselves subject to job termination, lawsuits and criminal prosecution. “I don’t know how someone who has any kind of conscience can make money from people who are already struggling,” said C.T. Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service in Washington.

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