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Lassen County Times
Susanville, California
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October 30, 2007     Lassen County Times
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October 30, 2007
 

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Lassen County Times Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007 5A Joshua Sebold Staff Writer isebold@plumasnews,com Although to some students sitting in class may seem like being in prison, to inmates at "the California Correctional Center, in Susanville, the abil- ity to take college classes probably feels a little bit like freedom. Feather River College's Incarcerated Student Program, started in mid- March, gives 120 inmates at CCC the ability to take a full load of college courses each quarter while still serving time in prison. The CCC already provided teachers and classrooms for inmates to earn their GEDs, and the addition of the FRC program gives the prisoners an opportunity to take college courses and possibly transfer to a four-year university upon being released from prison. FRC English instructor Joan Parkin runs the pro- gram and even gives a lecture once a month at the prison. The rest of the students' stud- ies revolve around textbooks and worksheets. Prisoners are given take- home tests for most classes because the prison staff said it finds it hard to round up all the participants for each exam. Math tests, which are proctored and taken in class, are the exception. The prison students do not have access to computers. A few of the students have type- writers but most of them hand write their papers. The truly amazing part of theprogram is how well the inmates are doing. "They're actually some of the college's best students," says Parkin said. She attributes this to the fact that, with a combination of a lot of free time and a dependence on textbooks to learn from, the students end up reading and rereading most of the material. This differs from many typ- .ical college students who may rely more on going to lectures and are less likely to reread material. She also commented many of the inmates spent much of their time writing letters home, giving them more writ- ing practice than typical stu- dents taking the same classes at FRC. For inmates, this program provides a future outside of prison and the hope that time spent there will not be wast- ed. It's also something to write home about, something to be proud about in a time when pride may not be at a premium. Programs like this seem to be more and more relevant each year with a burgeoning U.S. prison population. The Inmate Outreach Program, an organization started by a Stanford University student, reports "2.3 million adults are cur- rently incarcerated in the U.S accounting for 25 per- cent of the total world prison population." The organiza- tion also claims that 75 per- cent of these inmates don't have a high school diploma. The Inmate Outreach Program's Web site also notes that 7.5 percent of American .adults will spend time in a jail or prison at some point in their lives and that this is the highest incarceration rate in the world. Studies in the U.S. and Canada have come to the con- clusion that participation in inmate education programs reduces the chances that a prisoner will commit crimes -H.AI8 HUNTERS SALO.N . FULL SEFIVlOE SALON Full body Waxing deice Sexy .Hair Massage Therapy Manicures,Pedicures Heather Marsh - owner in the future. Student Trustee Lydia Sandlin works as a tutor in p oC'S Incarcerated Student gram, visiting prisoners and helping them with their classes. She also answers any questions the students may have about transferring to a university in the future. Describing her experience tutoring in the prison, Sandlin said, "When I firs.t went, I was precautious and scared-- I mean, it's a prison. I didn't know if I could walk between the tables they were sitting at or talk to them. Our first group was in the Chow Hall and there was a gunner above us and guards at the door." On Oct. 16, a day after her second visit, she said she felt more at home. "It's not threat- ening anymore. It's really exciting. I get to experience a whole other side of the educa- tion system that other stu- dents don't get to see." Sandlin went on to describe a conversation she had with the prison's principal in which he told her that he had noticed a decrease in violence among participants in the program. "They're the best of the group and they want to be doing this," said Sandlin, who returned to the prison Monday, Oct. 22, to tutor once again. Paying honor Sheila Purvis gives her three-month membershi p from Iron Horse Gym to Bryan Light, 25. Purvis Won the membership in a raffle contest and heard Light was interested in joining Iron Horse Gym and decid- ed to give the membershi p to him. Light enli'sted in the United States Navy with the First Light Armored Reconnaissance and is stationed at Camp Pendleton. He has served two consecutive tours in Iraq and is visiting his par- ents who recently moved to Susanville. Photo by Ruth Ellis I ~'. ~" Another step forward was taken at Lassen Community College when the cross-fil- ings of unfair labor practice complaints with the Public Employee Relations board by both the Lassen College Faculty Association and the College District were with- drawn by mutual agreement of the parties. Both Lassen Community College President Dr. Douglas Houston and LCFA President Mark Nareau agreed it was a good decision because the complaints came out of dis- agreements that are now in the past, and it reflects, well on a mutual commitment to move forward together. Houston said he and LCFA representatives sat down and discussed the complaints. '~11 the issues related to the general state of morale at the time," Houston said: The college president said both sides signed a written agreement to withdraw their complaints so the two sides could postpone mediation and engage in "interest-based bargaining" in an effort to resolve their differences. "The climate on campus is much more conducive to full and open disclosure which was not the atmosphere last year," said Nareau. "We are encouraged with the changes in leadership and attitude and the fact that this adminis- tration values the faculty." col According to Nareau, the LCFA felt it is much more beneficial to negotiate in good faith so both sides have dropped all complaints and are coming back to the bar- gaining table. The next mediation session has been postponed so that both bargaining teams can attend interest-based bar- gaining training. "This is further evidence that we are working jointly toward the same end," said Houston. 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