Cerro Coso Community College's Incarcerated Student Education Program began in 2015, following the passage of Senate Bill 1391. This policy shifted the apportionment for colleges and allowed face-to-face programs to begin inside of prison. This investment by the State of California is a unique approach to a successful partnership for rehabilitation and safer communities. Education is an extremely valuable part of the rehabilitation process. As Carla Rivera of Los Angeles Times reported, “a 2013 study by the Rand Corp. found that inmates who participated in educational programs were 43% less likely to return to prison within three years than those who didn't participate” (2015, p. 1). There are also cost benefits associated with educating incarcerated individuals, as the cost of education is less than the cost of incarceration for repeat offenders. For every $1 spent on education in prison, it saves the public $5 on future incarceration. Additionally, the attainment of a degree aids in the ability to obtain work, where it is sometimes difficult for formerly incarcerated to obtain jobs.

To read more on studies regarding recidivism rates and other benefits of offering higher education to incarcerated individuals and how face-to-face education has successful results in this environment.

Initially, the program began with one class taught by pioneer Cerro Coso counselor, Betty Mintz-Jones with 19 students at the California City Facility.

Connecting ISEP to Cerro Coso Community College's Mission

The mission of Cerro Coso Community College is to improve the life of every student it serves. Through traditional and distance delivery, Cerro Coso Community College brings transfer preparation, workforce education, remedial instruction, and learning opportunities that develop ethical and effective citizenry to the rural communities and unincorporated areas of the Eastern Sierra. In doing so, we promise clarity of educational pathways, comprehensive and equitable support services, and a commitment to equity.

Cerro Coso Community College knows how to serve distance and unique populations very well. CCCC serves 7 campuses over 18,000 square miles. In addition to those sites, ISEP serves the following facilities:

  • California City Correctional Facility
  • California Correctional Institution - Tehachapi

“September 14...was quite an exciting sight. We held tutoring groups and the library was packed to capacity. I made a comment to my class about how awesome it was to see that many people working together to learn. They could have been out on the yard or messing around...watching T.V. or playing cards, but they made the choice to be there.”

Thank you for this opportunity, -Student/tutor in CCI