Walker State Prison Partners with GSU to Offer New Class to Offenders
“Readings in the Humanities” Elective Course
FORSYTH, Ga. – On March 30, an elective course called “Readings in the Humanities” started at Walker State Prison. It is a new course being offered to offenders at the facility during the Spring 2018 term. The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and Georgia State University (GSU) work together to make college level courses available to the offenders. The course is intended to introduce students to the humanities by participating in fiction and non-fiction readings. Students are encouraged to use critical thinking skills and participate in academic discussions.
“Our goal is to educate offenders and help them to re-enter society as productive members,” said Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier. “Offenders that take advantage of the education offered at our facilities are also proven to lower the overall recidivism rates for the Department, meaning they are less likely to return to prison.”
The education partnership with GSU was sparked by their Prison Education Project. The partnership’s mission is to make college credit level classes available to offenders in prisons all over Georgia. Currently, GSU and GDC have been able to make this course available at Phillips State Prison, Lee Arrendale State Prison, Atlanta Transitional Center and Walker State Prison. College class pilot programs have also been offered at Hancock State Prison. The Prison Education Project started at Phillips State Prison through a state grant.
“The offenders have responded well to the college level courses as they engage in meaningful, stimulating activity,” said Peter Lindsay, an associate professor at GSU. “Of course, the additional education opportunities are beneficial to the offenders, but it also benefits GSU staff and students. The offender population have a lot to offer in terms of sharing their life experiences, so in a way, they teach us as well.”
The “Readings in the Humanities” course will last for six weeks. There are currently 15 offenders registered in the class.
Walker State Prison is also a Faith and Character Based Prison that provides a two-year curriculum of personal and spiritual growth, as well as, development under the supervision of the program coordinator. It is designed to give the participants the skills needed to explore and choose alternatives to criminal thinking and behavior through emphasis on spiritual, moral, and character development.
There are also classes at Phillips State Prison (SP) that are paid for by Common Good Atlanta, a non-profit partner. Sarah Higinbotham and Bill Taft (who won Volunteer of the Year for the GDC) have taught at Phillips (SP) for ten years and have spent over 80 faculty hours to tutor the men there to pass the AccuPlacer test to be admitted. They have also paid for all tuition, fees, and books.
About the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC)
The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising nearly 52,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 10,500 employees. For more information on the GDC, call 478-992-5247 or visit http://www.gdc.ga.gov