By Lt. Lupe Cartagena, Administrative Assistant/PIO

California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran (SATF) recently marked an educational first when Feather River College collaborated with the Tulare Lake Adult School to begin a college program on SATF’s 180 design level IV facility.

Level IV inmates at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at Corcoran are able to attend a college program.

Feather River College offers a program to earn an associate of arts degree to selected SATF inmates.

The 30-month college program provides books for the inmates and awards 12 units of credit per semester completed. SATF chose 40 inmates from its level IV 180 facility as a tool to improve behavior and reduce violence.

The education staff has been fortunate to have support from Warden Ralph Diaz, who fully supports the mission, philosophy and goals of the Tulare Lake Adult School at SATF.

“I believe that acquiring life skills and academic skills will help make a difference in the lives of the students, their families, and the community while reducing recidivism,” said Warden Diaz.

Patricia Medved, principal at the Tulare Lake Adult School, celebrated the hard work and academic achievements of the inmate students chosen for the Feather River College sessions.

“This program is fulfilling the mission of the community colleges, which is to provide quality education that is affordable and accessible to all Californians, including those students who are incarcerated, while fulfilling the mission of the CDCR to provide for public safety, reduce prison violence and recidivism,” Principal Medved said.

Tulare Lake Adult School is committed to providing a progressive and positive learning environment that affords students the opportunity to set their own educational, personal, and career goals; learn and develop social and career skills; and enable them to function effectively inside the prison and upon release into the community.

This program reflects the balance of providing educational opportunities to a unusual, diverse and often challenging population while dealing with the restrictions that protect the overall safety and needs of the prison institution.

The Feather River College Program for the incarcerated is headed by Dr. Joan Parkin and Kelly Conner, who said they hope this program will become a model to follow throughout the state.

“We are trying to show through research that post-secondary education programs give inmates opportunities and tools needed to successfully re-enter society and reduce violence in the prisons,” said Dr. Parkin. “Studies have also shown that inmates who have participated in correctional education programs were far less likely to return to prison after release. Strategies to reduce recidivism provide enormous fiscal and public safety benefits and are key components to the Governor’s recently enacted reforms.”

The Feather River College program at SATF will be coordinated by Dr. Louise Draxler and Tom Jacobs, C Facility academic teachers.