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Education Unit to Hold Recognition Ceremonies for Almost 1450 Inmates

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 11th and June 21st, 2010. During these spring graduation ceremonies, the Education Unit will present approximately 556 inmates in six facilities with certificates in either GED, ABE, ESL, arts programs, or vocational training. Approximately 875 additional inmates have completed Community College of Rhode Island classes ranging from ten hour certificate classes to academic credit classes during the 2009-10 academic year (some of whom have since been released), including two who will receive Associate’s degrees from CCRI.

Recognition ceremonies will be held according to the following schedule: Friday, June 11th, 8:30 a.m. Gloria McDonald Women’s Awaiting Trial & Medium Security Facility Ms. Johanna Gomes, Rhode Island Parent Information Network, guest speaker 1 p.m. Dorothea Dix Women’s Minimum Security Facility Ms. Laura Jones, Rhode Island Parent Information Network, guest speaker Monday, June 14th, 8:30 a.m. Donald Price Medium Security Facility 1 p.m. Men’s Maximum Security Facility Dr. Leo Carroll, Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, URI, guest speaker Thursday, June 17th, 1 p.m. Men’s Minimum Security Facility Friday, June 18th, 8:30 a.m. John J. Moran Medium Security Facility Ms. Deborah Anthes, Administrator of Adult Basic Education Services, RIDE, guest speaker Monday, June 21st, 8:30 a.m. John J. Moran Medium Security Facility Ms. Deborah Gist, Commissioner, RIDE, guest speaker

For the second 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.

“It’s gratifying to recognize our students for the work they put into their classes,” notes Special Education Director / Principal Ralph Orleck. “Just this week we received a request from a former offender who asked for a replacement certificate earned six years ago that was lost in the recent flooding. This just goes to show that it really means a lot to the students,” Orleck added.

Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services Roberta Richman says of the large number of inmates being acknowledged this year, “We have a strong rehabilitative and reentry focus in our facilities. Prisoners who participate in educational programming are much less likely to re-offend. We are pleased to watch the numbers recognized in these ceremonies continue to rise. Our only frustration with the higher numbers is our inability, due to budget constraints, to provide enough slots in every class for every inmate who would like to take them.”

As he has been each year of his presidency, CCRI President Ray M. Di Pasquale will be on hand to present two Associates degrees at the John J. Moran Men’s Medium Security Facility to inmates Mark Halvorsen and Christopher Sanden.

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 160 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.

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