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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The holiday feel-good story of the year

Oregon State PenitentiarySomeone is trying to create hope for change at what is normally just a factory for destroying human potential. Image by Katherine H via Flickr

Awesome. Well done, sir, whomever you are.
In the past two years, The Investor has donated $294,000 so that kidnappers, bank robbers and other felons at three state prisons can go to college behind bars.

College for prisoners
An anonymous donor has been financing community college classes for inmates at three Oregon prisons.

Current enrollment:
Oregon State Correctional Institution: 31 students

Oregon State Penitentiary: 44 students

Mill Creek Correctional Facility: 20 students

Grade point average for all students 2007-09: 3.4

Requirements for participation:
18 months' good conduct

High school GED

Be within five years of release

Donor's latest gift: $15,000 Christmas donation for books for women at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville

Donations from others: $26,483, 2007-09, for textbooks
Contact: Nancy Green, director for Corrections Education at Chemeketa Community College: 503-399-5050
His latest gift, just in time for Christmas this year, is $15,000 for women inmates at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville to buy books for themselves.

Oregon's educational offerings for prisoners have been limited largely to GED classes and vocational training since 1994. That's the year Congress stopped Pell grants for college tuition for prisoners, effectively shutting down every prison college program in the country.

More than four in 10 Oregon inmates go to prison without even a high school education. Nationally, the average is more than six in 10. Giving prisoners education while they're incarcerated is a key factor in preventing them from coming back once they're out. . . .

"He believes government can't do everything and private citizens need to step up," Green said. "He also believes people deserve a second chance because all of us have made mistakes in our lives." . . .

"At a time when public agencies and Oregonians are reeling from the effects of the current economic environment," he said, "it is even more impressive to know that one individual is investing in the safety of Oregonians and is supportive of creating opportunities for so many offenders."
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