According to national statistics, one in every 31 adult Americans are either in prison, on probation or parole. Upon release, ninety-seven (97%) of incarcerated people return to a home in the ‘streets’ and more than half re-offend within three years.
Tiffany Kallam ’12 and professor of community and justice studies Barbara Lawrence developed an education program to break this cycle—the Higher Education in Prison Initiative.
“Many people leave prison unskilled and undereducated. Both factors correlate powerfully to recidivism rates, leaving them unprepared for life on the outside and a risk to public safety,” Kallam ’12 said. “For those who earn an associate’s degree while in prison, the recidivism rate drops to 13.7% and for those who earn a bachelor’s degree, the rate drops to 5.6%.”
“The Higher Education in Prison program brings Guilford College professors and tutors to Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury, N.C. (men's facility) and the Southern Correctional Institution in Troy, N.C. (women's facility) to teach rigorous, credit-bearing courses in the liberal arts,” Professor Lawrence said. “Guilford College is committed to its longstanding mission to provide a transformative, practical and excellent liberal arts education for every student.”
The Higher Education in Prison Initiative was created in Lawrence’s course, Race, Society and Criminal Justice. Working with Professor Lawrence, Kallam ’12 was awarded a Principled Problem Solving (PPS) Partnership Project grant to bring the program to life. According to a program report, program outcomes include reducing recidivism, strengthening underserved communities, increasing employment, reducing poverty, saving taxpayers’ dollars and increasing human connectivity.
“Our strong collaboration with state officials and the Center for Principled Problem Solving has allowed this program to grow. Our goal is to ensure that the program can be sustained so that the recidivism rate in North Carolina is changed for the better,” Kallam ’12 stated.
The program made history on June 24, 2016, when six men at the Piedmont Correctional Facility took the LEED Green Associate exam, a national certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It's the first time the certification exam has been offered in a correctional facility and we're pleased to report that four out of the six students passed the exam.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is considering offering programs in additional facilities, including the nearby Dan River Prison Work Farm, as well as implementing projects that will help make these and other facilities throughout the state become more environmentally sound utilizing HEIPP participants. All of this future work is inspired by Guilford's program. The U.S. Green Building Council North Carolina recently nominated Guilford for a Sustainable Business Award for this program we are offering with the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
The Higher Education in Prison Initiative is actively seeking Guilford students to serve as volunteer mentors and tutors. All interested students should contact Barbara Lawrence, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our dedicated instructors: Associate Professor Michael Dutch (business), Stephen Hill, Assistant Professor Shana Scudder (UNCG Assistant Writing Director) and Associate Professor Barbara Lawrence (justice & policy studies).
For more information about the Higher Education in Prison Initiative, contact Barbara Lawrence, email@example.com, 336.316.2489.