Fundraisers help Carson City prisoners take college courses
January 29, 2019
Northern Nevada Correctional Center's recent inmate fundraisers have generated a total of nearly $12,000 that has been donated to the Western Nevada College Veterans Resource Center to allow the inmates to attend college classes while in prison.
NNCC has partnered with Costco to purchase chicken, pizza and other items not available at the inmates' store on NNCC's grounds. Twice this year, the facility has hosted barbecues at which the inmates have bought items which cost extra. In all from the past two fundraisers in recent months, approximately $11,700 has been raised.
NNCC Associate Warden Lisa Walsh has overseen the fundraiser.
Wednesday, NNCC's staff, including Warden Isidro Baca, presented a check to the Veterans Resource Center.
"This is the next step — getting these guys welding certificates and getting them into a career of welding and just helping with re-entry," Baca said.
Between NNCC and the Warm Springs Correctional Center, 95 inmates are participating in college courses with a current 100 percent rate. So far, most inmates have earned As or Bs and there has only been one C-.
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Behavior impacts participation in the program, Baca emphasized.
"If we get you going and you put your order in and all that and you decide you're not going to behave, you're out that money," he said. "So it's really important to maintain that positive behavior throughout that process."
Richard Vlach, WNC weterans pre-admissions adviser, called the program a tool to keep the inmates productive as they serve their terms in NNCC or Warm Springs. Currently, inmates can take communications or mathematics and next semester, there will be other offerings for inmates to obtain certificates or work toward an associate's degree.
"It's just a good incentive," he said. "We want to keep them busy, we want to keep it safe here at the institution."
WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys said the foundation is working with private donors to fund scholarships and NNCC to collect money for fundraisers completed, which she called innovative.
Baca said NNCC as a whole has had a strong working relationship with Carson City School District in providing a general education development and HiSet curriculum to help inmates obtain their high school equivalency. Now, he said, offering college courses is improving the inmates' ability to re-enter society.
"It helps the community that the inmates now are able to go out into the community with possibly a welding certificate and then they're able to get a good job," Baca said after the presentation. "That keeps them from coming here and now they're productive members of society. They're staying out of trouble. They're helping in the community and such. … That's a benefit to their family, to their friends and everyone else."
With 38 inmates currently taking college courses at NNCC, Baca said being able to maintain that number for now is something to aspire to and that he hoped the program would continue.