Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Project Rebound at the Beach

What a person does to become incarcerated is more often than not, on them. However, how we as a society choose to prepare and equip currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to re-enter society is entirely on us. 


Project Rebound is a beacon of hope that penetrates prison walls and cell doors; illuminating the prison to college pipeline. The project provides a tangible pathway for people to find new and meaningful purposes in a supportive educational setting. 


Formerly incarcerated students face a number of barriers to their educational and individual success. The terms and conditions of probation and parole see that roughly 60% of prisoners return to custody within three years. Dehumanization, deindividuation or loss of identity, marginalization, stigmatization, trauma, serve as psychosocial barriers to student success and upward social mobility.  


Project Rebound provides formerly incarcerated students with the resources, tools, and techniques to persist and succeed from enrollment to degree…and beyond. For example, Project Rebound programs offer help with transcripts, admissions and enrollment forms and processes. They also assist with funding for books and educational materials.


The program also provides tutoring services and referrals to academic, health, counseling, and student support services. This includes group support and peer mentoring. They assist with financial aid assistance, as well as help with housing and food insecurity issues. Essentially Project Rebound seeks to help formerly incarcerated students meet Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs so that they can focus on their education.


Prior to entering higher education in 2009, I spent 28 years addicted to hard core drugs accompanied with the criminal lifestyle that often comes with addiction. I’ve been jailed on more than 24 occasions, imprisoned six times, and hold two-strikes in the state of California. For those of us who have been incarcerated, we know that having tangible opportunities upon release can make the difference between whether we succeed in re-entering society, or return to custody. 


Higher education has the potential to disrupt cycles of recidivism and transform the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals to become successful students, community leaders, and role models. The higher level of education attained, the less likely an individual is to return to custody, and instead live productive and meaningful lives. Higher education plays a vital role in restoring the lives, families, and communities of formerly incarcerated students. 


In 2017 I had the privilege of being invited to the Project Rebound 50th Anniversary Gala at San Francisco State University. It was an evening of powerful testimony of how the vision of one man, John Irwin, has transformed the lives of countless formerly incarcerated students for five decades. Dr. Nelson Mandela truly stated, “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails [prisons]. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”


As a potential client who would benefit from Project Rebound services and support, to know that Project Rebound has found a home at Cal State Long Beach is a source of tremendous pride and eternal hope. It is the product of putting action behind our promise of “inclusive excellence.” It is a commitment to going the distance to make a difference in the lives of others! Go Beach! 


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