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Bakersfield College

Graduation Caps flying in the air.

Inmate Scholars Program

Spotlight: First Graduate of BC's Inmate Scholars Program

Bakersfield College saw its first Inmate Scholars Program cohort graduate on August 28, 2019. These seventeen inmate students at Kern Valley State Prison received their associate's degrees after making the decision to utilize this opportunity and better their future with education.

Inmate Scholars Program Overview

Bakersfield College serves individuals currently incarcerated in ten California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities.

Sara Wallace, English Professor, shares her insights from her experiences teaching inmates. Read her blog Reflections from Inside.

Components of the Program

Inside of Prison

  • Transfer-level courses within the CSU Breadth pattern in partnership with 10 prisons.
  • More than 2,400 enrollments in the first two years of the program.
  • Courses offered to the Fire Brigade at Wasco State Prison. Students included officers and inmates. 
  • Culinary of Arts Certificate offered at McFarland Community Re-Entry Facility.
  • Matriculation assistance and support offered at Lerdo County Jail.
  • Support to the KVSP, B Yard Debate Club.

Outside of Prison

  • On-campus club, "Free on the Outside," included more than 10 members within the first month. Three students who were formerly incarcerated were elected within the Student Government Association.
  • Serve re-entry facilities with matriculation, guest speaking, and serve on a local advisory committee.
  • Partnerships with community, criminal justice, and non-profits.

Program Details


  • Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)
  • North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
  • California State Prison, Corcoran (COR)
  • California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF)
  • Wasco State Prison (WSP)
  • Delano MCCF (contract prison - City of Delano)
  • Golden State MCCF (contract prison - GEO)
  • McFarland Female Community Re-Entry Facility (contract prison - GEO)
  • Central Valley MCCF (contract prison - GEO)
  • Shafter MCCF (contract prison - City of Shafter)
  • Lerdo County Jail

Programs Offered

  • CSU Breadth General Education
  • Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts (McFarland)
  • Fire Technology Courses to the Fire Brigade at Wasco State Prison
  • Free on the Outside (FOTO) student club


"We know that Bakersfield College volunteers to serve us and we want them to know we appreciate their work." Program Scholar
"We understand why the program exists and how we can create opportunity for other people currently incarcerated." Program Scholar
"For a few hours a week, we feel human again." Program Scholar

Course Statistics

The Inmate Scholars Program continues to expand every year, and is expected to keep growing in the future.
Spring 2015 Fall 2017 Projected Fall 2018
1 Transferable Course 12 Transferable Courses
10 CTE or Basic Skills Courses
20 Transferable Courses
15 CTE or Basic Skills Courses
1 Course Section 32 Course Sections 50 Course Sections
1 Location 8 Locations 10 Locations
1 Yard 17 Yards 23 Yards
21 Students 691 Students 1,000 Students
21 Enrollments 965 Enrollments 1,800 Enrollments