A Three Essay Case Study of a Correctional Education Partnership Between a Community College and Local Sheriff’s Department



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Background: This three paper dissertation addresses the nationally relevant conversation relating to criminal justice reform as it pertains to educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals. The current study focuses on the partnership between a community college and a local sheriff’s department that work together to offer correctional education opportunities to incarcerated individuals. Purpose: This dissertation explores the decision making processes of this partnership, the ways in which program structure impedes or improves program outcomes, and the experiences and perceptions of program effectiveness from community college teachers working in this partnership. Methods: In all three papers, I employ case study methods to answer the research question(s) posed. In the first paper, I interview four administrative personnel and analyze ten administrative documents. In the second paper, I interview four administrative personnel and complete a document analysis of various administrative documents. Then, I use thematic analysis to organize and present findings. For the third paper, I interview five teachers employed by the community college. Again, I employ thematic analysis to analyze the data. Results: In the first paper, I find that by writing and revising an MOU, correctional education partnerships can set clear roles. At the same time, I find that carceral and educational organizations have vastly different cultures. These differences create challenges in the decision making process. In the second paper, I find that structural factors such as aligning courses with college curriculum, having a knowledge of local labor market trends, creating program evaluation methods, and offering equitable course offerings for men and women are key for partnerships to provide quality correctional education. In the third paper, I find that correctional education instructors must be adaptable to handle the challenges of teaching in this setting. Additionally, I find that without a method of tracking student outcomes post-release teachers are unable to measure the effectiveness of the program. Conclusion: Together, these papers offer a detailed image of the benefits, obstacles, and areas of improvement for this correctional education partnership. This work can inform administrators and policy makers to ensure high-quality instruction for incarcerated individuals.



Correctional Education, Partnerships, Community College, Sheriff's Department


Portions of this document appear in: Thouin, Caroline. "Understanding the Implications of Partnerships in Vocational Correctional Education Programs: A Case Study of the Relationship between A Community College and County Sheriff’s Department." Community College Journal of Research and Practice (2021): 1-18.