The students in Blue Mountain Community College’s Corrections Education Programs know the work they do in the classroom to earn a GED certification is a valuable and important part of their rehabilitation in prison.
Recently, “Adults In Custody” (AICs) in the program at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution made sure others saw that value with the completion of a mural of BMCC’s logo in the program’s entryway in the prison. The logo signifies the importance of the work they do in the classroom and encourages success. The nine faculty instructors and four support staff who work inside EOCI are sending the message to AIC students that “Education IS Rehabilitation.”
In the 2018-19 academic year, EOCI had 68 GED students graduate from the program, and since the BMCC Corrections Education program began at EOCI in 1985, more than 3,250 students have been awarded a GED.
A 2013 RAND Corporation study showed that participation in prison education was associated with over a 40 percent reduction in recidivism. According to the National Institute of Higher Education Policy, corrections education programs can be quite transformative and extends to employment outcomes, civic engagement, and increased participation in education after release.
“Education really is rehabilitation,” said Tammy Krawczyk, BMCC Dean of Instruction: Corrections Education & College Prep. “Our team is showing these AICs they are capable of so much more in life, and are helping to give them the confidence they need to succeed. The BMCC Corrections Education program is a partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC). We are very fortunate to have great support from multiple programs within DOC and Blue Mountain Community College.”
BMCC’s Corrections Education program is made possible through a contract between the College and the DOC to fund instructors and other program staff. The Corrections Education employees at EOCI, Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla and Powder River Correctional Facility in Baker City are all BMCC employees. The program helps AICs earn a GED, as well as provides English Language Acquisition (ELA) courses to teach English skills to AICs whose first language is not English.
To further drive the point of “Education IS Rehabilitation,” EOCI’s New Directions Project is now providing college-level classes to AICs who meet the program criteria. This program allows instructors from BMCC’s main campus the opportunity to come “inside” to teach their classes to the AIC students. Currently, the program serves 35 students. The New Directions program is operated entirely without state or federal funding, so donations to support this program are appreciated. Anyone interested in providing support should contact the BMCC Foundation, 541-278-5775.