CoreCivic claims success for educational programs

By Thomas Gardner

CoreCivic is boasting higher than expected success rates in its educational programs, The Eloy Enterprise reports.

At La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy (CCA operated private prison facility), “as of late August, 94 inmates had received their GED in 2016 through the programs offered. In addition, 557 inmates have also received vocational certificates in everything from electrical, to carpentry and plumbing, according to a CoreCivic press release,” says Tanner Clinch of The Eloy Enterprise.

This figure is on course to surpass that of the previous year, where 73 inmates obtained their GEDs, and another 747 inmates obtained vocational certificates, Clinch says.

La Palma Correctional Center’s Principal of Education, Yolanda Fernanez-Carr, said, “These inmates are able to change their lifestyle just by the fact that they either continue their education or they get into one of the trades when they get out,” Clinch reports.

It has been recognized that inmates who participate in education while incarcerated are 43 percent less likely to re-offend and have a 13 percent higher chance of gaining employment when released. A study from the Research and Development Corporation has affirmed this statistic, according to Clinch.

“It’s incumbent upon all of us to educate these students as much as possible because these people will return to the community, and we’re trying to develop productive citizens,” said Ramirez-Carr, Clinch reports.

Approximately 3,000 inmates are housed at La Palma on behalf of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In addition, CoreCivic runs three other prison facilities in Eloy, according to The Eloy Enterprise report.

CDCR Public Information Officer Joe Orlando noted, “Education has always been a priority throughout our prison system, whether the inmate is housed in-state or at one of the contract bed units,

Speaking on behalf of CoreCivic, Director of Educational Services Michelle Cotter, according to the report, said, “We know that quality education and vocational training are crucial to successful reentry, and we are always working to provide those opportunities for the individuals in our care.”

Ramirez-Carr credits CoreCivic’s educational success rates to hard-working teachers and tutoring programs they have been able to offer.

According to Clinch’s report, at La Palma, 67 percent of inmates who take the GED test pass it.    

Additionally, CoreCivic is also “looking to supply more advanced education opportunities at La Palma, hoping to add an associate’s program in construction management to their curriculum to go along with the horticulture and master gardener certifications they offer through a partnership with the University of Arizona,”

Currently, CoreCivic is also working on growth, with a new facility in the making. A “$34 million, 97,000-square-foot-expansion will house eight 50-bed dorms for prisoners, along with support facilities such as food and medical service, as well as recreation such as basketball courts, libraries, a baseball field and, of course, education. The new facility will offer more opportunities for vocational education in computing and electrical training,” Clinch reported.

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