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Going To College Inside Prison


Francisco Hernandez talks with Think Out Loud.

Francisco Hernandez talks with Think Out Loud.

John Rosman / OPB

During this time of graduation ceremonies and commencement addresses, we bring you a different kind of college story. College Inside is a program run through Chemeketa Community College that allows prison inmates to work towards their two-year associates degree.

We went to the Oregon State Penitentiary to talk to a dozen inmates about what they see as the reformative power of education. In the show you’ll hear them talk about the crimes they committed, the lives they live inside prison, the reasons they decided to take college courses, and how they have been changed by what they’ve learned.

Sterling Cunio entered Oregon State Penitentiary in 1994. At age 16, he was convicted of the murder, kidnapping and robbery of two individuals. He’s currently enrolled in the prison’s College Inside Program. He’s been taking classes since 2011.

Jesse Otey entered Oregon State Penitentiary in 2009. He was convicted of robbery and theft. He is a current student
of the prison’s College Inside Program. He just completed his first semester.

Eli Kinsley entered Oregon State Penitentiary in 2013. He was convicted of delivery of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school and first-degree child neglect. He is a current student of the prison’s College Inside Program. He’s been in enrolled for about a year.

Jeff Jacobs entered Oregon State Penitentiary in 2010. He was convicted of manslaughter II, and failure to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person. He is a current student of the prison’s College Inside Program. He’s been in enrolled for three years. His last final was the day after this interview.

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