SVCC receives funding for Campus Within Walls
Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018
The Laughing Gull Foundation (LGF) recently awarded Southside Virginia Community College a Higher Education in Prison Grant to support the College’s Campus Within Walls Program. According to a press release, “College education provides incarcerated students the tools they need to successfully re-enter society and become productive citizens.”
Lisa Hudson, Campus Within Walls Coordinator, stated, “It is so rewarding to be able to provide educational opportunities to students who never thought college was an option for them. They share their experiences with their families and everyone benefits. Students transform their own lives and it encourages children and grandchildren to continue their own education. This changes generations.”
In the release Hudson explains that almost seven out of every 10 incarcerated people nationwide are rearrested within three years of their release from prison. An Institute for Higher Education Policy report found that the most significant factor in reducing this recidivism is college education, which offers former inmates a better chance of being productive, employed citizens. In fact, the study found that recidivism rates for incarcerated people who participated in prison postsecondary education programs were on average 46 percent lower than those who did not take college classes.
“Those statistics are remarkable,” said Hudson. “We know that 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released. If college experiences could cut the recidivism rate in half, we could save the Virginia taxpayers millions of dollars and at the same time have a positive impact on our students’ lives.”
One student who has been incarcerated since the age of 18 and is nearing release at the age of 41 says, ““Going through the Associate Degree program has given me the confidence to know that there isn’t anything that I am not capable of if I put my mind to it.”
Southside Virginia Community College started Campus Within Walls in 2009 at the Lunenburg Correctional Center in Victoria. The program has allowed incarcerated, college-ready students the opportunity to attain education and training credentials. Currently, students have the opportunity to work toward an Associate’s Degree in General Studies (61 credits), a certificate in General Education (31 credits), or a certificate in Business Software Applications (9 credits).
The Laughing Gull Foundation grant of $87,000 will provide funding for two years to support student tuition and books. Campus Within Walls currently serves Lunenburg Correctional Center and the Virginia Correctional Center for Women in Goochland, Virginia. Plans are underway to expand the program in response to inquiries received from several prisons to have classes offered for their inmates.
Joan Tuck, Professor of Information Technology, has taught at the Lunenburg Correctional Center since 2011. Tuck observed, “The students in this program are enthusiastic about enrolling in higher education and they work hard to earn college certificates and degrees while incarcerated. I truly believe that education changes lives and this program is a perfect example of the mission of Southside Virginia Community College.”
The Laughing Gull Foundation is a progressive family foundation rooted in the U.S. South. Through grant making activities they work proactively toward a mission of transforming broken systems for the benefit of people and the planet. LGF envisions a world in which everyone is supported, included, embraced, and protected, especially those who have been pushed to the margins of the human family.