Prison Education Project continues CSU support

By Ana Brenda Ibarra

Cal Poly Pomona’s Prison Education Project has expanded its participation, goal objectives and influence since last fall when the program first kicked off.

The PEP, founded and directed by CPP Political Science professor Renford Reese, attempts to enhance education opportunities and services for inmates in California prisons.

While there have been some changes to the program, PEP’s mission remains the same.

“The model is to use the resources of the community colleges and universities that are in the backyards of these prisons to create a collaborative model,” said Reese. “The movement is we’re trying to reduce recidivism by 1 percent. That’s my vision. [Over the next three years] we can save the state $80 million.”

According to Reese, this is money that could and should be going back to the CSU system.

As of last November, when The Poly Post first reported on PEP, the number of participants has doubled, going from 40 to 80 student volunteers.

During the initial stages of the PEP, all students volunteered in the California Institute for Men in the city of Chino. The program has now expanded to two other facilities: the California Rehabilitation in Norco where 20 students from CPP and Cal State Fullerton volunteer and the California Institute for Women.

Undertaking the CIW was made possible in a large part because of CPP’s Ethnic Women’s Studies Department. EWS Professors Patricia deFreitas, Terri Gomez and Anita Jain attend the CIW every Thursday and offer women empowerment sessions in which they discuss topics such as motherhood, domestic violence and women leaders.

A new learning module has also been instituted for the PEP. Inmates are now required to pass seven classes within three years in order to receive an Interdisciplinary Program Certificate that inmates will be able to show potential employers. Some of the courses offered include Intro to Communications, Intro to Psychology, Intermediate Mathematics, Film Studies and Music Appreciation.

The PEP also offers art classes, which are directed by CPP alumna Shelly Bruce. Bruce coordinates art exhibits in Downtown Pomona where the inmates’ art pieces are sold in galleries such as Machine Pomona and the DA Gallery. Fifty percent of the proceeds are put back into the PEP’s art program.

Come September, the PEP will also initiate in the Ventura Juvenile Correctional Facility. The PEP at CPP will restart in Oct. 15 with orientation commencing Monday, Oct. 1.

Prison Education at the California Rehabilitation Center, Norco

Courtesy Renford Reese

Prison Education at the California Rehabilitation Center, Norco

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