According to national statistics, one in every 31 adult Americans are either in prison, on probation or on parole. Upon release, 97% of incarcerated people return to a home in the ‘streets’ and more than half re-offend within three years.
“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,” CPPS Alumni Community Fellow Tiffany Kallam ’12 stated. “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%.”
Kallam ’12 was determined to break the cycle of recidivism using a unique tool—education.
In spring 2014, through a collaborative, strategic effort with the Center for Principled Problem Solving, the Office of the President, the Office of the Academic Dean, Professor Barbara Lawrence, the Department of Justice and Policy Studies and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Guilford College and the Center for Principled Problem Solving (CPPS) began a two-year pilot program called the Higher Education in Prison Program (HEIPP).
The program facilitates ten college courses and an employability certification for a cohort of fifteen students who are incarcerated in a medium security men's prison in North Carolina.
Twice a week, Guilford College professors teach in a nontraditional classroom, to nontraditional college students who are engaged, determined and focused.
On Friday evenings, volunteer mentors and tutors provide support for the HEIPP students. Mentors and tutors are Guilford alumni and current students. Each volunteer mentor and tutor receives prison orientation and training, as well as Guilford College mentor and tutor training. These mentors and tutors volunteer their time selflessly to ensure that their peers located at the prison receive the aid and support that their peers on the Guilford College campus would receive — truly seeking to live up to Guilford's Core Value of Equality in education.
The students in the Higher Education in Prison Program (HEIPP) are remarkable. The challenges they face inside prison walls are limitless. They have a list of reasons why not to enroll in an educational program or even stay in the program. Despite their challenges and overwhelming opposition from naysayers, they continue. They rise, meet and exceed expectations.
There is irrefutable reciprocity for everyone involved in the HEIPP Program. We on the outside — faculty, volunteer mentors/tutors and allies — are learning just as much as the students taking the classes, and more and more about our collective humanity.
In spring 2015, Project F.A.C.E. (Family and Community Engagement) was launched as a community-based program effort of the Higher Education in Prison Program. Project F.A.C.E. is a current PPS Partnership Project. The project goals are to lessen the stigma of having a loved one in prison, coordinate resource services to provide support for families and communities and facilitate the building of support systems for communities to lessen the impact of incarceration on its members.
Project F.A.C.E. is hosting one of Guilford County's first community resource fairs for family and community members who have a loved one incarcerated on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Caldcleugh Multicultural Center, 1700 Orchard Drive in Greensboro. The F.A.C.E. event will be from 2-5 p.m.