Cuesta College chosen for inmate second chance program

August 6, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education has chosen Cuesta College as one of five California colleges to participate in a pilot program with a goal of reducing recidivism for inmates through education.

As part of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, beginning in the spring of 2017, selected California Men’s Colony (CMC) inmates will receive Pell Grant funds to cover the costs of Cuesta College courses and books. Cuesta College expects to have 250 students at the CMC enrolled in a 21-course program that leads to a transferable degree in sociology.

Students will be taught in-person by Cuesta College instructors working at the CMC.

“Society becomes safer when inmates are released with employable skills,” said Cuesta College Superintendent/President Dr. Gil Stork. “Cuesta College is currently working directly with the California Men’s Colony to provide educational programs to selected incarcerated individuals that will greatly enhance their employability upon release.”

According to a 2013 study by the RAND Corporation, funded by the Department of Justice, incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs.

“We are very pleased to be selected as one of the pilot colleges in implementing the Second Chance Pell Grant initiative,” Stork said.

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This is just more money for the Education Industrial Complex that turns out Graduates that can’t tell the difference US Constitution from the Communist Manifesto.

I wonder who will teach the classes? Maybe the instructors who do it by the internet. Maybe the one from Germany who has never been on campus!

So many of the classes are taught by people who never darken the door at Cuesta. The school seems powerless to require instructors to be physically on campus for office hours. Some of the instructional staff actually show up for work; mingle with students and provide the traditional student-teacher interaction.

The internet is not allowed in any area a convict may have access to inside of CDCR. Nope, the instructors would have to be face-to-face with these men and women providing probably much more than just the traditional student-teacher interaction… We should applaud them! Probably stepping way out of their comfort zone to instruct some who some others would rather have dead in an environment that reeks of one failure after another?! Hell, they deserve both a raise and a medal!!!!

One of the first things that your so called “Education Industrial Complex” should teach is the Constitutionality of “Innocence Until Proven Guilty” and where it is the accusers responsibility to prove that guilt “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”! Two things that most of us have decided isn’t expedient enough for those accused…

The Sham Education Industrial Complex:

“In 2012, the United States spent $11,700 per full-time-equivalent student on elementary/secondary education, which was 31 percent higher than the OECD average of $9,000. At the postsecondary level, the United States spent $26,600 per FTE student, which was 79 percent higher than the OECD average of $14,800.”

Facts are stubborn things:

– See more at:

It wasn’t my intent to question the validity of your claim of a “Education Industrial Complex”. Basically that’s what it is, especially when you consider that public education at any level should be affordable, if not free, to anyone who wishes to participate. Using “so called” was a poor choice of words on my part and I apologize.

Adam Hill’s troll and Cuesta College english professor, Marylin Rossa, will be more than happy to work with the inmates. That way she can make contacts for Adam for when he is incarcerated.

“Society becomes safer when inmates are released with employable skills,” said Cuesta College Superintendent/President Dr. Gil Stork.

I agree totally, so why teach them Sociology???

Programs in health, computers and other technical fields would provide far more employable skills. Classes that both provided a certificate and be transferable would also give them more options.

“Programs in health, computers and other technical fields would provide far more employable skills.”

To some degree you’re right, but to some degree you’re not. Those typically “more employable skills’ are also ones that encompass “moral turpitude” laws; where a person cannot find employment with them as their respective crime(s) are related to those skills. A person with a history of burglary cannot have a real estate license, a person with a drug history cannot obtain a nursing license, a person who stole cars cannot have a car sales license, and so-on. Also, getting insured and or bonded in some of those areas is almost impossible for an ex-con.

Why not teach them sociology? It would not only give them insight into what makes others “tick” but what makes them tick as well! Maybe it would serve a duel role; making them employable but also more in-tune with what it will take to keep themselves that way while better enabling them to enroll back in society in a productive and legal manner. And what of the possibility that they would be able to counsel others going down the road they know so well in a “trained manner” that could, and would, make some of those they counsel do an about-face? There is no better “counselor” than the one who has direct and real world experience in the area he or she counsels in.

One thing some don’t realize is the absolute flaw in the rehabilitation approach; flawed because it never takes into account that most of these individuals have never been “habilitated” in the first place. Sociology, in my opinion, was an excellent choice as a pilot course for this program.

Because most sociology graduates work for the government. Many government workers are criminals… it is a natural fit.


I was Mainly addressing where the Pell grant Money was being Spent. The Lotto is Something that should be looked at. Where is all that Money?

The Pell Grants will only cover the cost of books and materials, nothing more. So the average Grant won’t be in the thousands of dollars but more than likely in the hundreds of dollars range.

Years ago Vets’ were allowed to use the educational benefits while incarcerated but the voters found out about and that was cut! Pell Grants were also allowed but that too was cut at the voters instance (maybe not in actual votes but in the pressure put on representatives to keep them in office).

You have to understand one thing about our current prison system; it IS NOT about the convict’s best interest in seeing he or she has every opportunity to stay out, no, it’s really about a system that PROFITS from their incarceration. From staff salaries to the for profit Prison Industries it’s all about keeping those “beasts” profitable.

The lottery is another subject all together, one that should be front and center in the coming years!

So, 57 percent fail at this program. I am for helping someone who want to him themselves. But these people need to do something to earn this privilege. Personally, it is probably a reward for them if they enroll. Do we pay them too! Our entire legal system is wrong. These failures are doing nothing on their own to rehab. I say see them the to Mojave, put them in tents, feed them peanut/jelly sandwiches, pink uniforms, no TV or guards on the inside. Let nature take care of itself. Then, you can offer those that want to help themselves alternatives for job training, and if they fail, see them back. Better yet, contract the prison system over to Mexico, I’ve advocated that for years and then you will see crime decline,

The way I see it, we dump too much into education for people that don’t want it or can’t handle. it. Yes, let’s be honest, there are people that do not have the learning skills to compete in our school system which by standards of other Countries is not challenging now to many students. We are always pouring money into backing up our failures, but somehow we don’t seem to pour enough money into our success’s. .

I can tell you these kids today start in preschool (cost), then grammar school (cost), then a special needs program (cost), then an aide in the classroom for their program for autism, ADD, ADHD, Dysgraphia. Dyscalculia. Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, English learning, writing issues, etc. (cost), then a counselor (cost), then junion high (cost), same in special needs and aide (cost), and high school (cost) and then they drop out or commit some evil crime (5 perfect examples of failure posted here last week) and go to jail (cost), court (cost), attorney fees (cost), prison (cost), and for what? Then we all complain about the cost of schools and education. Overall, we spent so much money on education although it is not on the basic learning skills. Now, they want to start over as we continue to get taxed more, see more crime, and get to look at the failures of our government institutions, all of them! Hell, kids have to take beginning classes in college before they start in their formal classes because they can’t read and write. Damn, when will this stop!

While some of your points are good, many are wrong and result in solutions that are even worse than the problems you are complaining about. Just because our current system has its problems and is far from perfect doesn’t mean that some solutions can’t make it worse.

Your idea of dumping criminals in a Mojave Desert version of Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County AZ prisons will not work for most of those you are so willing to willing to write off. Instead, you will get a lot more resentful and desperate ex-cons who neither can nor want to be productive members of a society that allowed them to be treated that way. And yes, let’s contract our prison system to Mexico. Look at how crime-free that country is as a result.

Some of the problems you point out with our education system are legit but largely unrelated to the criminal reform problem. A good program which is realistic in its goals and practical in what it teaches would reduce recidivism. Yes, there will be those who can’t or won’t benefit from it but they will be fewer in number and that is the best for which we can reasonably hope.

The educational system has its inefficiencies as you point out but they are still much less costly than a prison system that dumps unemployable, inept people back into society after they have completed their time in prison.

RonHolt,,, Thank you for your response. I too think we can agree on some points but will disagree on others!

So your response is let’s spend more on the same failures and maybe a few will succeed and the cost is not important because we taxpayers don’t care. If we cracked down on the entire legal system, I believe we could reduce crime because the current system does not seem to be reducing our current crime rate.

1. Get them into Court and through the legal system in a reasonable amount of time

2. Charge them for the crime committed and stop playing game of wheel and deal with the charges

3. Change the penalties imposed to fix the crime

4. Penalty should be served to the full time sentenced.

1) If a prisoner wants to contribute their service they can reduce time in prison (example: fire crew, work assignment, education (if they miss “x” number of classed or fail “x” number of classes they are out for one year and have to then start over) These are privileges and should be treated as such. Abuse the privilege (attacks on other prisoners or staff, possession of contraband, etc. and they pay the price, something we all have to do that in our daily lives.

5. Implement the death penalty. With new technology, DNA, etc. if someone is sentenced to death, allow “x” number of appeals (2 sounds reasonable) and they must be completed within “x” time period (3 years sounds reasonable). Prisoners have been on death role for 30 plus years, ridiculous!

6. Create a second tier prison system, contract it out to Mexico. If you are a repeat offender, or don’t abide by the rules and regulations of the first tier system then you will be sent to a second tier prison. “And yes, let’s contract our prison system to Mexico. Look at how crime-free that country is as a result.” Yes, they have major issues in Mexico and we have all heard the stories of being in their prison system. I think any prisoner hearing the stories of the second tier prisoner will think twice about their crimes and behavior.

I really believe that our legal system is not strong enough. Criminals have to be made accountable for their behavior against society. I really believe in a tier system as I discuss above because if someone does want to better them self, and I think we should provide the tools with strict guidelines. By the same token, if a criminal does not want to step up to the plate and take advantage of opportunities, well, then that is their choice!

1) California’s sentencing matrix is relevant to the time imposed for for the crime convicted of; it has a three tier sentencing structure of a low term, a middle term and a top term. Each convicted person starts off with the mid-term and with mitigating circumstances it is lowered to the low term and with aggravating circumstances its raised to the high term. As far as the “wheeling and dealing” you’re talking about? Its a necessary part of the justice system. If every person was denied any type of deal and was forced to trial the county jails would be overflowing in days and many cases would have to be dismissed because time constraints, your right to a speedy trial, would be spent. In California a person has to be arraigned in 3 days and be in front of either a judge or jury in 30 days, now that’s reasonable, right? Problem is with the backlog of cases this would cause most, if not all, county jails to overflow, courts would be log jammed and would be forced to dismiss many cases.

2) In California every person sentenced to prison is expected to do the full amount of time sentenced to, that time is reduced by doing exactly those things you describe, and it is voluntary. They are considered privileges, you have to earn them with good behavior and the willingness to participate within the guidelines and rules set down by CDCR. Here’s the “catch 22′ though; with the overcrowding in CDCR there are not enough jobs, school space and or trades to place every convict in one of those programs.

3). Mexico? You have got to be kidding me, right? That part of your post doesn’t even merit a real response…

4) Until we, the public, can have a real discussion about the death penalty and its real purpose of revenge and not as the deterrent its purported to be, it should be suspended. There is ample proof out there right now that about 4% of those executed were innocent, that means 4 out of every 100 person executed DID NOT do the crime they were convicted of and were put to death anyway! Do we as an informed, educated and responsible people just shrug THAT off as part of being in the business of state sponsored murder? Is it JUST the price of doing business with the cost going to the innocent and their families?

Education in this case has to be a two way street…

OK, pass me the cherry kool aide and make it a double shot! I am now going for a nap…

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “program” has a 60% recidivism rate. He has had multiple law suits filed against him which have never come to trial while being settled out of court (costing his county over $140 million dollars). Violence within “his” county jail is among the highest in the country, suicide rates dwarf other county jails (24% in his jail as compared to 6% to 14% in other jails) and all-the-while his wife is the sole provider of canteen items at the jail which charges inmates upwards of $3 for a can of soda (off-brands to boot). Here’s some of his “top ten” accomplishments:

Felix Torrez was picked up for riding his bike to work on the wrong side of the street, taken to jail, and died from a bleeding ulcer while jailers ignored his cries.

2011 Gulf War veteran Marty Atencio was manhandled and Tased by eight guards, then left to die.

For 60 hours, Deborah Braillard suffered the agonies of hell as she went into a diabetic coma. She died because jailers did not administer insulin.

Of the 157 deaths listed on the sheriff’s watch on the M.E.’s chart, 34 simply are tagged as having been found dead with no explanation as to cause of death. More mysteriously, another 39 died in the county hospital without explanation. That’s 73 deaths — nearly half of all deaths — that county authorities list as “who knows?” – Alternet December 2014

So, these Men are already in Prison,and Taxpayer’s funds that. And now more taxpayer money is going to educate them.What else do they have to do besides sitting in a cell or learning a new skill. I am in favor of helping these guy’s, but jeez,this sure burns my hide because there’s bunches of our Children that should come first.

This isn’t new, not at all. These programs were cut many years ago when all of CDC’s budget, except for staffs salaries, were cut. As far as learning a new skill, those programs were also cut drastically (especially those that were the most productive in keeping convicts on the streets; auto body, auto mechanics, wood working and the many apprenticeship programs that actually helped convicts get jobs before being paroled). Now we are taking a step back in time realizing the lip service society pays these individuals is just that, lip service. Any time we talk of programs that will benefit convicts, making it a little more likely that they have a chance of becoming a productive part of society, we always talk of the cost. Why? Especially since the cost of recidivism DOES cost all of us much, much more. We didn’t bitch when California was spending between $280 million to $350 million EACH for 23 new prisons! All the while voting in laws that increased sentences and populations. The increase in staff with these new prisons cost the California tax payers billions of dollars without one word of dissent from its population, we voted in a three strikes law that wasn’t what it was intended for and bitched to no end when that law was reformed.

What you should really bitch about is the cost to the tax payer that the ballooned salaries of CDCR’s staff that costs us billions (last year about $2.1 billion dollars which DIDN’T include the $350 million in overtime ). Their new contract also covers the cost of fitness programs and making some paid leave count toward the threshold for overtime.

Our children should come first? Tell that to the California State Lottery which was intended to help fund our children’s schools while in actuality it has provided slightly less than 2 cents of every dollar in what’s spent to operate K-12 schools (L.A. Times January, 2016). The average Pell Grant is about $3000 dollars a year, the average cost of keeping a convict in prison in California is about $60,000 a year, which costs the tax payer less?

Being “hard on crime” makes it hard on our wallets as well. Think about that every time you vote in a law that increases prison sentences while decreasing the programs that can and will lessen the 60% recidivism rate in California.

Well said.

Unfortunately, base emotions like vengence tend to over-rule reason and logic. While punishment can play some role in reform, beyond a certain point it is not just ineffective but counter-productive. Many people don’t appreciate or understand that and tend to go with a “more is better” attitude about reform through punishment. Thus we end up with the grossly over-priced prison system you described and fill it with repeat criminals — some (not all) of whom would have gone straight if they had received quality training and counseling while in prison or upon release.