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Perhaps I’m just an old Izzet Mage at heart, but I believe “experiment,” when used within reason, is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. It’s far too easy to trap the world as we know and experience it within a box, closeting ourselves and our hopes of learning anything new. 

As has been said in this column many times before, this is one of the beauties of a top-notch community college such as Cuesta, which rewards its students for trying new things rather than punishing them for not yet having a plan. It is altogether fitting, then, that Cuesta made the list of only five campuses in California hand-picked to participate in a nationwide experiment. 

The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program is a national experiment that aims to utilize federal funding (Pell Grants, in this case) to pay for enrollment and books so that inmates can take courses in postsecondary education. The experiment’s goal, then, is to teach inmates employable skills so that they are less likely to return to prison upon release. In the case of Cuesta College, beginning in spring 2017, California Men’s Colony (CMC) inmates, who are already so close to the school to begin with, will receive an opportunity to broaden horizons that could otherwise have stagnated. 

According to a 2013 study by the RAND Corporation, funded by the Department of Justice, incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional programs. Cuesta Superintendent/President Gil Stork is hopeful about the program. 

“Society becomes safer when inmates are released with employable skills,” he said. “Cuesta College is currently working directly with the California Men’s Colony to provide educational programs to selected incarcerated individuals that will greatly enhance their employability upon release.”

Do you have any cool experiments you’d like us to know about? Are you the one making the power go out at The Shredder’s apartment complex? Drop us a line at the email address below, and have a great start of term! 

Contributor Lola White-Sanborn sighs with delight at the sound of the word “experiment,” apparently. Send her your collegiate news via cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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