By Lt. Erick Kennison, Administrative Assistant/PIO

A total of 21 California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (CSATF) inmates on C Facility received their General Education Development certificates during a commencement ceremony held recently.

Family members, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff, and teachers were present with graduates for the event at the Tulare Lake Adult School.

Teachers and students on Facility C (a 180 Level IV Yard) are discovering ways to break free from traditional schooling practices, which have not worked for these men in the past. They voluntarily work together to rehabilitate what happens in their own classrooms, despite the handcuffs of high-stakes testing, large class sizes, and the threat of isolation.

Teachers Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Silacci said they believe that students ought to be provided with opportunities to engage with their own educations, understand the importance of their active participations, and share their learning with others.

Typically this type of yard is on lockdown 90 percent of the time. However, CASTF staff have been able to serve more 500 inmates per month over the past year in spite of lockdowns and modified programs.

This is our second graduation in four months, while there has not been a graduation ceremony in the previous seven years. Due to the logistics with this type of yard, ceremonies are limited to the first 25 students to get their GED results from official testing service.

“Inmates who leave our correctional facilities prepared with the right education can make positive contributions to the community.  Giving these inmates the tools they need to succeed upon release will reduce recidivism, and improve public safety,” said Warden Ralph Diaz.  “Strategies to reduce recidivism provide enormous public safety benefits and are key components of the Governor’s vision for long-term reform.”

The graduation keynote speaker was James Collier, a current student in the Feather River College program on C Facility. His presentation discussed how he enhanced his life by breaking out of the cycle of crime, and credited the many people that helped him along the way.

During the ceremony, 21 students received GED certificates.  Several of the graduates had family members in attendance.

All of the Tulare Lake Adult School administrative staff was present as well as Capt. Bert Odle, who is not only our strongest supporter of education for the incarcerated, but is also on the Tulare Lake Adult School – Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Leadership Team.