PENDLETON — 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.
According to a press release from Casey White-Zollman, vice president of college relations and advancement, 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 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 more than a 40% reduction in recidivism. And according to the National Institute of Higher Education Policy, corrections education programs can be 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 and 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. Krawczyk said they are very fortunate to have support from multiple programs within the DOC and BMCC.
The program is made possible through a contract between the college and the DOC. 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 courses to teach English skills to AICs whose first language is not English.
Also, EOCI’s New Directions Project is now providing college-level classes to AICs who meet the program criteria. The program allows instructors from BMCC’s main campus to teach classes to AIC students. The program currently serves 35 students.
The New Directions program is operated entirely without state or federal funding. Donations to support the program are greatly appreciated. For more information, call the BMCC Foundation at 541-278-5775.