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Education Unit to Hold Recognition Ceremonies for Almost 800 Inmates

A record number of inmates 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 10th and June 16th, 2009. During these spring graduation ceremonies, the Education Unit will present approximately 776 inmates (the most in RIDOC history) in six facilities with certificates in either GED, ABE, ESL, arts programs, or vocational training. An additional 971 inmates have completed CCRI classes ranging from ten hour certificate classes to academic credit classes during the 2008-09 academic year (some of whom have since been released), including a record six who will receive Associate’s degrees from CCRI.

Recognition ceremonies will be held according to the following schedule: Wednesday, June 10th, 8:30 a.m. Dorothea Dix Women’s Minimum Security Facility 1 p.m. Gloria McDonald Women’s Awaiting Trial and Medium Security Facility Thursday, June 11th, 1 p.m. Men’s Maximum Security Facility Friday, June 12th, 8:30 a.m. John J. Moran Medium Security Facility (CCRI certificate and degree programs and arts in prison certificates only) Monday, June 15th, 8:00 a.m. Donald Price Men’s Medium Security Facility 12:30 p.m. John J. Moran Men’s Medium Security Facility (non CCRI certificate programs only) Tuesday, June 16th, 1 p.m. Men’s Minimum Security Facility

This year’s 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 320 inmates (about 1/3 of the facility’s population) in the building and staff who will attend.

“These numbers are indicative of the ongoing success and increased offerings at the Moran Facility,” notes Associate Director of Education Timothy Murphy.

Assistant Director of Rehabilitative Services Roberta Richman says of the record number of inmates being acknowledged this year, “Prisoners who use their time productively and participate in educational programming are much less likely to be re-incarcerated. This year’s numbers reflect the corrections options legislation passed during the last legislative session which increased the amount of good time inmates can earn for program participation as well as the high caliber of programming provided by our Education Unit staff.”

CCRI President Ray M. Di Pasquale will be on hand to present three Associates degrees at the John J. Moran Men’s Medium Security facility to inmates Parrish Chase, Karl Krushnowski, and Ryan Wright. Two former Moran inmates who have since been released, Tom Kohlepp and James Wieneke, will also be acknowledged for having completed Associates degrees. President Di Pasquale will also attend the Maximum Security ceremony where inmate Steven Parkhurst will join just a few other inmates in RIDOC history to receive an Associates degree while incarcerated in Maximum Security.

Testing indicates that a good 22% 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 populations, 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 seven-week summer school session and will be testing until late August. It is anticipated that approximately 190 inmates will have completed their GED requirements this academic year.

The recognition ceremonies are not open to the public. 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.

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