IMPERIAL — Money raised by inmates at Centinela State Prison west of Seeley will be put to good use at Imperial Valley College, according to an IVC press release.
The $10,000 going into IVC’s Restorative Justice account administered by the IVC Foundation comes from Centinela inmates participating in quarterly fundraisers, per the release An estimated $325,000 raised by Centinela inmates in the past 10 years has been distributed to nonprofit programs throughout Imperial County, according to Centinela’s Community Resource Manager, Kenneth Phillips.
At IVC, the funds raised by inmates will help those described by IVC’s Eduardo Pesqueira as “justice-impacted” students, including those in the Inside-Out Program at the county jail as well as formerly incarcerated students attending classes on the IVC campus. Pesqueira is the college’s minority male initiative coordinator, according to the release.
Phillips said Centinela has a close relationship with IVC, in part due to face-to-face college programs at the prison, where IVC instructors work with students seeking associate degrees. Funded by the California Promise grant, the Prison Education program has been operated locally since the fall of 2016 at Centinela and Calipatria State Prisons, Pesqueira said.
Today, each prison has four cohorts involving 216 students total, the report said. Each cohort offers three to four courses per semester, enabling inmates to be full-time students. This fall, 29 inmates at Centinela and 45 at Calipatria State Prison are expected to graduate with their associate’s degrees for transfer (ADT), although that is contingent on the college being able to staff all of the courses, Pesqueira said. Eighteen more Centinela inmates are expected to graduate in the winter of 2020.
Thirty-four of the state’s 35 prisons have college programming. Research shows that obtaining a college education is having a significant impact on reducing recidivism rates, Pesqueira said.
“Textbooks are always the biggest hurdle, even for our formerly incarcerated students receiving financial aid on campus,” Pesqueira said in the release, given the high cost of many textbooks. The donated money will help qualifying students purchase textbooks and receive book vouchers and supplies.
Centinela contributed to IVC students previously with a donation to the IVC Foundation in December 2016, Phillips said.
Inmates have funds, thanks to their families, which are monitored by prison staff, he said. That money often is used for the quarterly fundraisers in which the prison brings in food products from local vendors. Proceeds go toward nonprofit programs in the community.
“Through the ongoing support of the community, Centinela helps local children’s and educational programs, food banks, and other nonprofit organizations,” Phillips continued. “It’s one of the most positive ways, if not the most positive way, we can assist our community.”