Inmates serving time inside Santee’s Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility may have a lower chance of reoffending once released due to a new higher education program underway at the women’s jail.
Under the facility’s Pathways to Success Academy, inmates have an opportunity to take college courses via a partnership between the jail and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
The pilot academy provides nine college credits, tutoring and financial aid information to inmates who succeed in the five-month program of instruction, homework and tests.
The academy “reflects a new philosophy” at the 1,200-inmate jail.
“Inmates leave better prepared for reintegration to the community, lowering the chance of reoffending,” said Christine Brown-Taylor, the re-entry services manager for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s and Grossmont College officials point to a 2013 RAND Corporation study that found inmates who participated in correctional education programs were 43 percent less likely to become repeat offenders than inmates who didn’t.
The Pathways to Success Academy is funded by the sheriff’s department, which provides the books, supplies and laptops used by the Grossmont College instructors.
Before acceptance into the program, inmates are screened to ensure they meet certain criteria, such as low-risk offenses with sentences long enough to complete classes.
In addition to college work, inmates also have the opportunity to enroll in adult education classes, including courses to earn a high school equivalency certificate and career training.
Nearly all enrolled inmates are on track to pass the program; when finished, the women will receive certificates of participation.
“They are extremely motivated and eager to take more classes,” said Grossmont College instructor Pearl Lopez. “They did not believe me that they were officially enrolled as Grossmont College students, so during the second week of the semester I brought them all a copy of their transcript. They were blown away.”
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