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San Quentin’s Prison University Gives Inmates Freedom to Learn

San Quentin is home to the Prison University Project, the largest on-site college-in-prison program among California state prisons. Inmates in PUP earn their associate’s degree for free, with volunteer instructors from schools like Stanford and UC Berkeley.

Opponents of higher education in prison, like those who voted down a proposal in New York earlier this year, say it’s wrong to give a taxpayer-funded degree to convicts. Some are fine with providing remedial and vocational education, but draw the line at college, a commodity families sacrifice thousands of dollars to give their children.

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The California Reentry Program

For prisoners finally being released from California prisons, The California Reentry Program is available to assist prisoners facing the outside world and parole. Facing and adhering to parole can be a daunting task for someone who has been incarcerated for any period of times. Job skills training, social skills beyond prison walls, housing, clothing – these are all situations that newly released prisoners must face.

The California Reentry Program began in 2003 when a prisoner being released from San Quentin approached a prison education instructor, asking about financial college aid, college admissions, and various other topics that would help the prisoner successfully renter society and continue his education. It became clear at that time that there were very limited resources for ex-offenders to learn about resources and local opportunities upon release.

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