Five inmates take GED test while at fire camp
By Lt. James Crandall, AA/PIO
California Correctional Center
Student success is paramount at the Earl Warren Adult School (EWAS) at the California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville. Whether offenders are incarcerated at the institution or a fire camp makes no difference.
CCC has the unique mission of supplying the 18 Northern California fire camps with qualified and well-trained individuals. J. Baldwin, Vice Principal at EWAS, has always had a passion for providing education services to inmates that are housed at camps. In the past these individuals had limited access to education as their main focus and priority was on fighting fires and being a part of the camp mission.
In the past, inmates at camp could further their education through correspondence work, self-determination and self-motivation. With the approval of CCC and Cal Fire management, that has changed. EWAS was able to start providing face-to-face instruction for five fire camps. These five sites include Parlin Fork, Ishi, Sugar Pine, Trinity River and Antelope camps while the other 13 are still serviced via correspondence.
In May, this program saw student success. EWAS administered the first electronic General Educational Development (GED) examine at Ishi camp. Five inmates tested, three of which were transported from other camps. By working hand-in-hand with CDCR custody staff, these inmates were able to be transported using the regular transportation system so there was no added expense to the taxpayers. Four out of five students passed their GED while one missed it by one point.
This adventure has been years in the making and would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of Cal Fire and CDCR custody staff. These entities came together to assist education staff by providing space and logistical support, taking students off line on instructional days and encouraging inmate firefighters to complete their education.
EWAS looks forward to the continued student success whether it is an earned GED or a student raising their reading and math levels. Providing these students with the opportunity for education helps to increase their odds of staying out. Many of the men at fire camp will parole with valuable skills such as firefighting, mechanics, clerical and culinary, as well as others.
What is even more important is these men will know what it means to be part of a team and relied upon whether it is cutting fire lines to save lives, homes, and property or providing a well-cooked meal for hungry crews.
The education staff strives to pair what the men learn at camp with helping students earn their GED so upon parole they are able and ready to start their new journey and to transition back into society.