ERIC Number: ED459314
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Mar-16
Why Does a Large Prison Population Yield So Few Participants in a College Program Offered at Prison Sites?
Walsh, S. M. Steve
A study was conducted to determine why such a small number (less than 2 percent) of the approximately 9,000 adult male prisoners housed in the 3 complexes of the California Institution for Men (Chino, California) in the mid-1980s were actively participating in the college program offered at the prison sites. Data were collected through interviews with several prison administrators, staff, and inmates. The study determined that only about 3,000 men were actually housed at the facilities at any one time and that only about 60 percent of them were eligible for the college program. So 10 percent of the prison population, not less than 2 percent actually participated. Reasons for lack of participation stemmed from an overall anti-college bias on the part of administrators and inmates. College programs were not widely publicized, so that inmates often did not know about the programs or were discouraged from registering. For those who did register, long hours on prison jobs, trouble in the prison, administrative snafus, or transfers often prevented them from attending class regularly. In addition, most of the administrators preferred that prisoners attend vocational programs that were directly useful to the prison system, while others were resentful of prisoners having a chance to go to college. Prisoners who were seen as "smart" by participating in the program faced coercion or violence from other inmates. Finally, participating in the college program often reduced the inmates' time off for working and, therefore, resulted in longer prison stays a powerful deterrent to their participation. (KC)
Descriptors: Access to Education, Administrator Attitudes, Adult Education, Adults, College Programs, Correctional Education, Correctional Institutions, Correctional Rehabilitation, Cultural Influences, Educational Attitudes, Enrollment, Enrollment Influences, Higher Education, Prison Libraries, Prisoners, Student Attitudes, Student Motivation
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (New York, NY, March 16-18, 2000).