12 Jul Salt Lake Community College’s Prison Education Graduates Earn Associate’s Degrees
Salt Lake Community College’s Prison Education Graduates Earn Associate’s Degrees
SALT LAKE CITY, July 10, 2023—Today, twenty-three students proudly graduated from Salt Lake Community College’s (SLCC) Prison Education Program at the Utah State Correctional Facility. Sixteen received an associate’s degree, all but one in General Studies, and seven received a certificate of completion for General Education.
“As these individuals are released from prison and become our neighbors, they often face a tough transition. SLCC is happy to be helping them gain the skills and education they need to find meaningful employment,” said SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin. “This allows them to support their families, possibly end cycles of poverty and incarceration, and become productive members in their communities.”
In the past year, more than 220 students, men and women, have participated in SLCC classes offered at the Utah State Correctional Facility. The community college anticipates around 300 students to register next fall for classes.
The SLCC prison education program (PEP) is one of the few in-person options available for students to take classes that can lead to a college degree. Currently, SLCC is the only school in the Utah Correctional Facility to offer an associate’s degree. Davis Tech has been offering technical education there since 2010.
“Providing education in the prison makes so much sense on both a practical level and a human level. It transforms individuals, strengthens families and ultimately benefits society,” said David Bokovoy, director of SLCC’s Prison Education Program. He pointed out that access to education significantly reduces recidivism. “Our students leave prison with hope, a belief in their potential, and a plan to find a job and sometimes pursue more education.”
SLCC’s prison program started as a pilot in 2017 with funding from the Utah State legislature. It began with 40 students (men and women) in seven classes. Now, SLCC offers 20 classes that can lead to six associate’s degrees: Anthropology, Business, Criminal Justice, General Studies, History and Paralegal Studies. More than two dozen SLCC faculty members teach in the Prison Education Program.
The program’s class completion rates are high, with a 92% rate for women and 66% men. (Men are more often moved to other facilities interrupting class attendance and completion).
“The opportunity SLCC provides for the students is really immeasurable. For most of our students, it is the first time they have been exposed to post-secondary education, and the first time they realize that they can succeed at this,” said Brian Fauver, Department of Corrections, education coordinator. “Education is valuable to any human. It’s not only about opening up economic opportunities, but it is also about expanding our identity and reaching our fullest potential as human beings.”
Ferosa Bluff, who earned her associate’s degree in General Education was one of a handful of students who spoke at the graduation ceremony. She spoke about how education had lifted up students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, and began to help them find purpose. “Education has allowed us to learn, grow and change as human beings.”
About Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake Community College is Utah’s largest two-year college, proudly educating the state’s most diverse student body in 8 areas of study at 10 locations and online. The majority of SLCC graduates transfer to four-year institutions, and thousands more are trained in direct-to-workforce programs. This year, SLCC is celebrating 75 years of providing Utahns with education and training in fields that builds the state’s vibrant economy and high quality of life.