Mount Tamalpais College, a two-year liberal arts college inside San Quentin State Prison in California, is now accredited as an independent university — making it the first college within a prison to gain accreditation. Formerly associated with an outside university, the school can now secure its own funding and future, giving those who are incarcerated a vital opportunity to earn college credits or an associate’s degree.
Less than 5% of formerly incarcerated individuals possess college credentials, making it more challenging for them to compete in an increasingly competitive employment market. Studies have also shown that incarcerated individuals who participate in post-secondary education while incarcerated have lower rates of recidivism.
“They’re not just giving you an education. They’re they’re giving you hope,” said Bonaru Richardson, a formerly incarcerated student of the program. “You know, they’re giving these individuals up in here hope in a place where it’s basically hopeless.”
This post was produced by Tim McPhillips, Erica R. Hendry and Travis Daub.