Inmates who participated in educational and vocational programming will receive certificates and degrees during the Rhode Island Department of Corrections’ annual recognition ceremonies in six of the state’s prison facilities between June 7 and June 16, 2011. During these spring graduation ceremonies, the Education Unit will present approximately 1,005 inmates in six facilities with certificates in either GED, ABE, ESL, arts programs, or vocational training. Approximately 403 additional inmates have completed Community College of Rhode Island classes ranging from ten hour certificate classes to academic credit classes during the 2010-11 academic year (some of whom have since been released), including eight who will receive Associate’s degrees from CCRI.
Recognition ceremonies will be held according to the following schedule: Thursday, June 7, 1 p.m. Men’s Minimum Security Facility Dr. Kenneth Walker, Chair, Rhode Island Parole Board, guest speaker
Monday, June 13, 8:30 a.m. Gloria McDonald Women’s Facility Ms. Kim Choinard, Adult Education Program Specialist, RIDE, guest speaker 1 p.m. New Women’s Medium Security and Awaiting Trial Facility Ms. Nancy Sheridan, Adult Education Program Specialist, RIDE, guest speaker
Tuesday, June 14, 8:30 a.m. Donald Price Medium Security Facility Dr. Philip Less, Administrator, Adult Basic Education & GED, RIDE, guest speaker 1 p.m. Men’s Maximum Security Facility Dr. Kenneth Walker, Chair, Rhode Island Parole Board, guest speaker
Wednesday, June 15, 8:30 a.m. John J. Moran Medium Security Facility Mr. Teny Gross, Executive Director, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, guest speaker
Thursday, June 16th, 8:30 a.m. John J. Moran Medium Security Facility Ms. Andrea Castaneda, Chief of Accelerating School Performance, RIDE, guest speaker CCRI President Ray M. Di Pasquale will present diplomas
For the third time this year, the ceremony at the John J. Moran Medium Security Facility, the RIDOC’s largest sentenced male facility, was to be so large that administrators decided to split it into two separate ceremonies in order to accommodate the over 330 inmates (about 1/3 of the facility’s population) in the building and staff who will attend.
“Our students work hard in class all year to improve their academic skills in order to ultimately earn a GED,” notes Special Education Director/Principal Ralph Orleck. “It’s gratifying to see them recognized for their efforts and accomplishments,” Orleck added.
Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services Roberta Richman says of the record number of inmates being acknowledged this year, “Inmates who participate in educational programs are much less likely to re-offend. It is gratifying to see the numbers recognized in these ceremonies continuing to rise.”
As he has been each year of his presidency, CCRI President Ray M. Di Pasquale will be on hand to present seven Associate’s degrees in the men's medium facility.
Testing indicates that a good 70% of inmates are functionally illiterate when they come to prison and approximately 75% do not have a GED. Educational programming occurs in every facility within the Adult Correctional Institutions five days a week on a full-time, year round basis and on evenings and weekends as well. The availability of educational programming may be limited for certain inmates due to restrictions on mixing certain segments of the inmate population, but everyone can receive instruction at least several times a week.
Each of the state’s eight prisons has designated classroom areas and libraries, which are available to all inmates as scheduling permits. Programs range from Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language (ESL) Special Education/Title I, Inmate Literacy Program, GED classes and testing in English and Spanish, post secondary programs, arts in prison, barbershop apprenticeship program, and other vocational training programs. The Education Unit also manages all reading libraries and law libraries within the facilities.
The RIDOC’s Education Unit will once again hold a six-week summer school session and will be testing until late August. It is anticipated that approximately 170 inmates will have completed their GED requirements this academic year.
Members of the press who are interested in covering any of the ceremonies mentioned above must contact Tracey Zeckhausen, Chief of Information and Public Relations, at (401) 462-2609 no later than midday of the business day preceding the ceremony they wish to attend, providing full name and date of birth of the person(s) covering the ceremony. Inmate graduates may not be filmed or photographed without written consent.