University of California Santa Cruz Inmate Outreach Project
Starting in the Fall of 2009, the UCSC Inmate Outreach Project brings together students, inmates, and ex-offenders through educational in-jail programming and community-based internships.
Background: In the summer of 2009 Lafayette College Students Amanda Pisetzner and Ashley Juavinett came from Pennsylvania where they received a 10,000 Katheryn Wasserman Davis Project for Peace Grant. During the previous year, both students worked as interns in the Northampton County Jail establishing its first reentry program, The Journey Home. It is upon this model that the Inmate Outreach Project is based on: a close connection between the University and the Jail, an emphasis on community-based work and reentry, and an understanding that inmates and ex-offenders are also members of our community. Ashley and Amanda’s time in Santa Cruz culminated with the start of two new in-house programs, internship opportunities for future students through the Parolee Planning Committee, and a sustainable relationship between UCSC and the jail.
UCSC Professor Mark Krumholz along with his grad students offers Algebra Classes in the main jail. They are looking to expand these classes to Watsonville Facilities as well. These 6-8 week classes cover the basics of Algebra and are a great preparation for and supplement to the GED. Books, worksheets, and more are provided for the students.
Though not fully underway yet, the UCSC Tutoring programs will assist inmate students with GED preparation along with overseeing Algebra study halls. Tutors work one-on-one with students to help develop strengths and assess areas needing improvement.
Inside Out Writing Project
Provided by the UCSC Women’s Center, the writing project emphasizes the importance of writing both as a craft and a therapy in small groups. Offered at both Blaine Street and Main, UCSC students work alongside inmates as they write and share their way through a variety of prompts, projects and more.
The special programs portion of the UCSC inmate outreach project is an ever-changing selection of small group classes and workshops. In the past, we have offered Book and Film Club, Open Art Studio, and Self-Defense. UCSC students hold quarterly “Needs Assessment” workshops to see what the inmates could use and would be excited to attend. Special Programs, therefore, are designed specifically around inmate interest. There is a strong emphasis on the sharing of experiences and insights, as well as application to real-life situations. Books, Art supplies, etc are provided to inmates.