From October 21 to 24, we hosted a ten-person peer review team from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) as part of our efforts to seek independent accreditation. We have been building toward this moment for many years. Over the course of four days, the team spoke with students, staff, faculty, and other community members to assess the Prison University Project in relation to a set of standards outlined by the ACCJC.
During a forum hosted inside San Quentin, students shared their experiences in the College Program and offered words of appreciation for the opportunities it provides. Community was the operative word; students expressed how meaningful a culture of care, respect, and love is on the inside and how it contributes to a learning community where everyone feels a deep sense of belonging. Faculty members and the prison’s staff offered similar expressions of support for the Prison University Project and highlighted our meaningful impact on San Quentin’s culture.
The commission shared commendations at the end of the process. They also made recommendations on some key areas to develop, and we will learn the commission’s decision in January. This visit marked one of the first times, if not the first time, an accrediting commission from any region in the United States conducted a full institutional review of a higher ed in prison program.
Please note that the Prison University Project became Mount Tamalpais College in September 2020.