College-level educational programs for formerly incarcerated students have increased dramatically in the last few years. Fueled by the energy of the criminal justice reform movement and the increasing awareness of the importance of education in successful reentry. In Southern California, many community colleges – where most formerly incarcerated students start their educational careers – have peer support groups for the reentry population, and some - like our Education Committee host Los Angeles Trade Tech College - have official administrative support programs as well.
Educational opportunities behind bars, for currently incarcerated students, are also increasing rapidly. Project Rebound has organized support at the local Cal State campuses, and the Underground Scholars are now at the local UC campuses. Many of those same institutions, including Mission College, UCLA, Coastline, and others, also administer college-level educational programs in local juvenile and adult institutions.
A powerful tool in encouraging and supporting access to these educational resources for the reentry population is building personal and professional connections between these programs. Navigating and surviving the world of higher education is not typically a skill learned behind bars, so one core mission of the Educational Committee is to try to link as many programs as possible, where re-entering individuals can find peer support and encouragement as they move their credits from behind bars to community college, 4-year institutions, graduate school, and professional careers.
We hope our work will also help generate other significant opportunities, through the LARRP partnership itself - to other community-based services through the Housing and Employment Committees - and through partnership with the educational institutions - to increase opportunities for professional development, education and awareness for the teachers and administrators working with this population. Other long-term goals and opportunities include data tracking and collection, and advocacy.
Please join us!