An exploratory study of agreements between institutions of higher education and correctional institutions
This exploratory study was conducted in the Commonwealth of Virginia and included Wardens, Department of Correctional Education Principals, community college Deans, and community college personnel assigned as prison program coordinators for college/correctional institution programs. Those were the total number of instructional managers responsible for postsecondary programs in medium and maximum security correctional institutions in the Commonwealth during November 1986. Surveys and interviews were used to obtain individual perceptions of responsibilities to be assigned to colleges and correctional institutions when agreements are for educational programs are developed.
Agreements used by colleges that were members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and correctional institutions were reviewed. There was no consistency among the states' agreements in the responsibilities included or in the institution assuming the same or similar responsibilities. A review of journal articles describing responsibilities in existing or proposed college/correctional institution programs revealed no consistency in the responsibilities necessary to be included in agreements. The responsibilities found in the state agreements as well as those in the journal articles provided examples of reasonable responsibilities for instructional managers to consider when developing agreements for college programs in correctional institutions.
A survey form was developed and administered to instructional managers. College coordinators of college/prison programs provided the largest percentage of responsibilities to be included in agreements, but correctional institution instructional managers overall responded with a larger number of necessary responsibility statements than college instructional managers. Generally instructional managers chose responsibility statements in the categories of Instruction, Curriculum Support, and Equipment and Supply to be included in agreements. Responses to the open-ended question asked during the interview phase revealed problems in the current structure of the college/prison programs. Many problems were appropriate for the categories of Faculty and Staff, Students, and Instruction. Wardens articulated the highest number of problems and were the only group of instructional managers to express concern about inmates as students in the community at the time they were released from the correctional institution. Instructional managers ranked Student and Faculty and Staff categories of responsibility statements as most important to include in agreements although they did not select them to be included in agreements.
Recommendations for improving the current method of providing college programs to incarcerated persons include the development of a statewide system composed of state level leadership. Individual colleges need to improve the quality of support and transitional services for students.