In California, prison inmates are preparing to make their second chance count by studying towards a college degree while incarcerated.
Yesterday, 24 inmates in caps and gowns at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego graduated with associates degrees in sociology and liberal arts before a ceremony honoring their commitments.
The degrees were provided and issued by Southwestern College via the Restorative Justice Program of California state, which allows prisoners to study face-to-face with teachers while incarcerated.
So far the program has helped over 1,500 people better their chances for a successful societal re-entry by increasing their employability, skill sets, and knowledge.
“I never had the dreams or aspirations to even think about higher education so it’s truly an honor to be able to pursue education and find purpose and meaning for my life despite my environment,” program graduate Derek Adams told NBC 7. Adams is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
“I literally feel free through the pursuit of my education already, so that’s why the concept of a life sentence doesn’t really apply anymore,” he added.
“Being system-impacted myself, I understand first-hand the importance of the Restorative Justice Program and its power to truly shape the lives of incarcerated individuals seeking to better themselves,” said Raquel Funches, interim director of restorative justice, who added that almost all 24 graduates are transferring to four-year degree programs for the University of California Irvine.
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“While incarcerated at RJ Donovan, these students now have the amazing opportunity to transfer to UC Irvine’s Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees program, the first in-prison BA-degree completion program in the University of California system.”
NBC 7 reports that prisoners re-entering society are 48% less likely to return to prison over a three-year period.
WATCH the story below from NBC 7…