What educational options do I have while I’m incarcerated?
You have options, but unfortunately your options and the quality of the programs will depend on where you’re incarcerated. The programs and resources available to you will be different based on whether you’re incarcerated in a federal prison, state prison, or county jail. In addition, the availability of programs and resources will be different across different facilities.
In general, the following programs will be available to you:
- If you’re in a federal prison, you should have free access to assessment testing, ABE classes (including literacy and ESL), GED programs, CTE and job readiness programs, as well as a College Coordinator who can help you enroll in and complete correspondence (mail) courses.
- If you’re in a California state prison, CDCR provides free access to assessment testing, ABE classes (including literacy and ESL), GED programs, high school diploma programs, CTE and job readiness programs, occupational licensing, library services, and tutoring support programs.
- If you’re incarcerated in a California county jail, California law gives individuals counties permission (and resources) to establish education programs in all adult county correctional facilities and to award diplomas and certificates for completion of study in these programs. However, the law does not require that the counties do so, or control how those programs are to be structured. Therefore, the availability and quality of educational programs varies from county to county. If you are incarcerated in county jail, you will need to check with your facility to see what programs are available to you.
Read more about the different programs that might be available while you are incarcerated in the section on Learning the Educational Landscape, starting on PG. 856. Even if you don’t have access to programs or classes that are right for you while you’re incarcerated, there are programs you can complete on your own through correspondence courses or self-study, and other practical steps you can take!
- For information about correspondence and self-study courses, see PG. 878.
- For information on preparing for your post-release education while you are incarcerated, see PG. 849.
Certain programs and resources must be available in correctional facilities according to federal or state law; others are provided according to institutional policies and regulations. See U.S. Dep’t Justice, Program Statement 1315.07 Inmate Legal Activities (Nov. 5, 1999). ↑
18 U.S.C. § 3624(f)(4); 28 C.F.R. pt. 544 subpt. H; U.S. Dep’t Justice Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Program Statement 5300.21, Education, Training, and Leisure Time Program Standards (Feb. 18, 2002); U.S. Dep’t Justice Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Program Statement 5350.24 English-as-a-Second-Language Program (July 24, 1997); U.S. Dep’t Justice, Legal Resource Guide to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (2014) at 19-20. ↑
28 C.F.R. pt. 544, subpt. D; pt. 5553; U.S. Dep’t Justice Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Program Statement 5300.21, Education, Training, and Leisure Time Program Standards (Feb. 18, 2002); U.S. Dep’t Justice, Legal Resource Guide to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 19-20 (2014). ↑
Christopher Zoukis, Education in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Prison Education.com (May 23, 2013), www.prisoneducation.com/prison-education-news/education-in-the-federal-bureau-of-prisons.html. ↑
Cal. Dep’t Corr. & Rehab., Operations Manual, 101010.1–101010.5.1 (2015); Office of Correctional Education, Cal. Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., Div. of Rehabilitative Programs. ↑
Cal. Veh. Code § 1900 et seq. ↑
Cal. Veh. Code §§ 1900-1909.5. ↑