TRANSFORMING LIVES: TWENTY-EIGHT INCARCERATED STUDENTS ARE THE FIRST TO GRADUATE FROM THE NORCO COLLEGE PRISON EDUCATION PROGRAM
On Friday, January 31, Norco College held its first commencement ceremony for its Prison Education Program at the California Rehabilitation Center, a medium-security state prison in Norco. Twenty-eight students successfully completed their studies and earned degrees in Business Administration, Psychology, and Sociology. Six of the students graduated with distinction. Some students will continue their studies under the guidance of the Claremont Colleges while others will attend a California State university to complete their baccalaureate degree.
Faculty, College leadership and family members were on hand for what turned out to be an emotional ceremony.
“You studied hard, you applied yourself, and you made it,” Monica Green, Ed.D., interim president, Norco College said in her commencement address. “Most importantly, you never gave up. If you had, you would not be sitting here today. Students face a number of different challenges, but what you have in common is that you persevered through those challenges and your efforts have paid off.”
Since 2017, Norco College has been a partner of the California De¬partment of Corrections and Rehabilitation to offer the Prison Education Program.
The program enrolls approximately 250 students each term and offers face-to-face courses that fulfill California State University general education requirements.
“It was a liberating experience for these students to join with their professors and the larger Norco College community to celebrate their intelligence, dedication, and success,” said Jessica Cobb, Ph.D., program director.
The Norco College Prison Education Program is geared to reduce recidivism rates by preparing students to join the workforce and contribute to the economic health of communities, while reducing unemployment and crime rates. Currently, 83 percent of individuals released from state prisons in the US return within nine years. A recent analysis by the nonpartisan think tank RAND showed that participation in prison education at any level reduces recidivism by 43 percent.