August 8, 2008

CNN features San Quentin education project

As part of its "Black in America" series, CNN has an upbeat story about education efforts in one of California's most famous prisons:
Lt. Sam Robinson, a 27-year veteran of San Quentin, gave a tour of 27 vocational programs run by about 3,000 volunteers as part of the Prison University Project, a nonprofit education program that offers many black men an opportunity to earn an associate of arts degree. It helps give those eligible for parole the intellectual tools to compete in a vastly changing job market.

Advocates say that many black men imprisoned across America, particularly nonviolent drug-related offenders, have enormous potential to become productive, law-abiding members of society through higher education in prison.

University of California at Berkeley professor Rebecca Carter volunteers as a biology instructor at San Quentin. During her first semester, she was startled by what she discovered. "I've been teaching on the Cal campus and teaching at the prison at the same time, and they were significantly more engaged when I was in the prison," Carter told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "Not always more in command with the subject matter but more engaged, doing the homework, asking questions because they were passionate about learning."
The full CNN article is here, accompanied by video and photographic footage of the prison university.

Hat tip: Douglas A. Berman, Sentencing Law & Policy blog

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