Safe laptop transforms correctional education

(Editor’s Note: A secure laptop has been distributed at the CDCR agency and is undergoing further rehabilitation efforts. See the video below. )

CDCR plans to deploy 30,000 devices over the next few years

Technology has changed almost every part of our daily lives, from how we communicate with our loved ones, to how we use media, how we search for jobs, and how we plan for the future. Just as technology is changing the outside world, it is changing the way rehabilitation works in state prisons.

CDCR deploys approximately 30,000 secure laptops to incarcerated students participating in in-person college programs. The laptop includes standard Microsoft Office applications, links to the Department of Rehabilitation Programs (DRP) Learning Network, and pre-loaded, approved bookmarks. This allows students to access Internet sites approved by their teaching faculty as suitable for research.

Using laptops allows students to interact with teachers and fellow students in new and innovative ways. These include a range of secure educational courses, standardized testing, and access to approved research sites. By using Canvas and other digital learning platforms, students can enhance their education through secure online research that was not possible before.

Student: ‘It helps me prepare for the world’

“This is rehabilitation,” said student Robert Thomas. “It helps prepare the world for the next step. Not everyone is here forever.”

“Laptops are a godsend,” enthuses Professor David Zuckerman, who leads the Transforming Outcomes Project at Sacramento State University (TOPS). The group runs an in-person college program at Folsom State Prison (FSP). “Laptops really change what we can do. I wholeheartedly applaud CDCR’s vision and their ambition to put these laptops into the hands of students.”

CDCR received general funding of $23.2 million in fiscal year 2021-22 to deploy laptops and build infrastructure to support an expanded student network. The goal is to make laptops available in all teaching classrooms so that all students have access to computers. The expansion will start with university programs, but will also include basic adult education and career technical education courses.

Collaboration, Teamwork Required to Deploy Secure Laptops

This is a huge undertaking that would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Office of Correctional Education (OCE) and Enterprise Information Services (EIS).

“This work has been a great partnership between EIS and OCE,” said Lynne Ruvalcaba, Supervisor of the Correctional Education Program (OCE). “EIS identified devices, procured them, and prepared them for distribution to students. The OCE also trained a large number of teachers and students to use the device, many of whom had never accessed their own computer. There was not.”

Rehabilitation, important work in re-entry

This effort involves a significant amount of training and visits to each institution. This allows teams to deploy, train, and troubleshoot computers as they are distributed and made available to students. All involved know that the work is worthwhile when looking at the big picture of rehabilitation and public safety.

Sylvia Dumalig, Head of Offender and Family Solutions (EIS), said the project opens doors to new worlds for participants.

Technology continued to evolve during their imprisonment, she explained. This initiative will give students the tools they need to evolve by learning how to use technology.

“This initiative will give incarcerated citizens the opportunity to learn about technology used in their daily lives, including at school,” Dumalig said. “This makes them ready for employment and allows them to further their education when they are released.”

Laptop project FAQ.

Meet the two people behind the project.

Krissi Khokhobashvili, Chief of Strategic Communications and External Relations
Video by TV Specialist Rob Stewart
Photo credit: Clarissa Resultan, TV Specialist

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