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Name: Prison Education Program of the North Carolina Community Colleges
Associated Educational Institution: 49 of 58 North Carolina Community Colleges
Associated Prison: 80 Different Educational Facilities
No Central Mailing Address. Contact North Carolina Department of Corrections at:
North Carolina Department of Correction
Division of Prisons
831 West Morgan Street 4260 MSC
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4260
Phone Number: (919) 838-4010
Fax Number: (919) 733-8272
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Point of Contact: Tracy McPherson
The North Carolina Department of Correction works with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Friday Center for Continuing Education to provide a variety of tuition-free university courses and educational services to inmates. Only those incarcerated in the North Carolina prison system qualify for the Correctional Education Program.
Since 1974, 167 participants in Correctional Education’s on-campus study-release program have earned college degrees, including three doctorates and eighteen master of arts or master of science degrees. Many have gone on to thrive in professional jobs. The recidivism rate of study-release participants is only 7 percent.
Who is Eligible?
Incarcerated individuals must meet academic and sentence criteria for eligibility. The academic criteria are a GED score of at least 250, a WRAT reading grade level of at least 10.0, or prior college (or community college) academic credits. The sentence criteria exclude all Class A and Class B felons, as well as other adult offenders whose parole eligibility and discharge dates are more than 10 years in the future. The 18- to 25-year-old individuals funded by Federal Youth Offender Act grants must be within five years of parole eligibility or discharge date.
Qualified inmates should contact a Programs or Education staff member, preferably their case worker, at their correctional facility
Like many other states, North Carolina’s approach to prison education is multi-tiered and varied. With inmates coming from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational levels, the population of NC prisoners has access to many programs suited to their needs. Not only does the North Carolina Department of Corrections offer basic adult education to inmates, they partner with universities and community colleges statewide to offer qualifying inmates access to higher education.
Why Education in NC Prisons?
The NC vision for education isn’t much different than other state programs that hold the view that if you educate prisoners, give them a chance to earn an income through legitimate forms of employment, you will reduce recidivism. In a news article in the Star News Online, the reporter acknowledged that North Carolina is among a handful of states that make “inmate education a priority.” An official at the Department of Corrections stated clearly that they have the inmates as a “captured audience.” They then treat this audience to a regimen of programs that are ultimately good for them—and many inmates realize the good it does them as they participate in their own educational growth.
Addressing Educational Needs
Many inmates require educational programs that teach the basics—reading and writing. There are programs that impart basic literacy skills to prisoners statewide. Many inmates, of course, have basic skills but do not have a diploma or GED that would make them more employable upon release. So, the prison system offers coursework that allows inmates to brush up their skills and acquire the certifications they need to eventually gain legitimate work. Other programs address vocational skills that help inmates develop specific career skills for specific types of jobs. Gaining experience in a field is an important asset for prisoners to obtain in order to qualify for jobs upon their release.