PCC moves the bar on inmate education

By VANESA BARNETT

Pima Community College has an ongoing agreement with the Federal Prison effective on Oct. 1, that is renewed every four years.

“PCC has taught classes at the FCC since the mid-1990s under a contract with the Bureau of Prisons that is renewed every four years.  It is an all-male prison,” Tony Offret, PCC program manager said.

According to Offret, PCC holds courses that teach the basics of small business administration and management. For example, classes in human relations and introduction to business.

Classes are taught in the education department at the Federal Correctional Complex in Tucson.

PCC provides supplies, equipment, and curriculum material. This includes classroom space, utilities, textbooks, paper, pens, pencils, technology and automated equipment.

“Because of security restrictions, there is no internet access for inmates.  Assignments are completed by pencil and paper,” Offret said.

Only one PCC faculty member teaches at the prison in all three levels of security. There is minimum level crime, which is predominantly white collar-crime. As well as medium and the high-security level at the penitentiary.

Instructors in the program must have a bachelor’s degree in business, as well as three years experience in business.

Prior to being selected as the instructor from the program, the candidate must attend an Institution Familiarization Orientation program before being involved.

The PCC instructor will run an hour long class with an average of 25 students.

After an inmate completes the course they will receive a certificate of direct employment and an official transcript from the college. The credits can also be applied toward a degree.

“Representatives from student services and financial aid visit inmates to explain how to continue at PCC upon release,” Offret said.

The inmates are also qualified for an entry-level job in a specified field right after they are released.

“Teaching at the prison is consistent with Pima’s mission of providing open access to education for people at all levels of society, particularly under-served populations,” Offret said.

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