Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Friday, May 21,1976
Three inmates beat rap of prison wall, earn college degree By DICK COCKLE Of the Union-Bulletin
It has the ugliest campus in the state. There are no proms, ski weekends or old school songs. Cellblocks take the place of fraternity houses, and noise frequently makes it difficult to study. The alma mater of three men who will graduate Sunday with four-year bachelor of arts degrees is the Washington State Penitentiary. They are the first inmates in the institution's history to earn B.A. degrees while in prison. "Study is a way of doing time," according to Stan Rose, 34, one of the graduates. A compact ex-merchant seaman who waxes the ends of his handlebar moustache, Rose was still carrying two bullets in his shoulder when he came to prison in 1970. He is serving a 55-year sentence for burglary and resisting arrest. "I made up my mind to get a B.A. 15 years ago, and I've been following it ever since. Being in prison has been a short step out of my life; I don't intend to let it stop me," he says. Before enrolling in the prison college, Rose took an assortment of correspondence courses on subjects like hydraulics, refrigeration, electricity, oceanography and breeds of horses. He spends 35 to 40 hours a week reading. "Stan is curious about the world. The whole world,'' says Eric Gabrielsen, one of his teachers. Like the other inmate graduates. Rose's degree is in "general studies" through Washington State University. The WSU classes have been under >vay'about two years and "general studies" is presently the only fouryear degree available at the prison. The curriculum is weighted to the social sciences, like psychology and sociology, which are popular with
inmates. In the future, the prison education department hopes to place more emphasis on vocational studies. Rose claims he would have preferred more math and science courses, had they been offered. But, he says: "The books I've studied, I would have probably read them anyway. This has allowed me to get some type of recognition for it." The prison school is a modern, bright facility within the old maximum-custody compound. Constructed in the 1880s when the institution was still a territorial prison, the building is equipped with features like closed-circuit TV , so a single guard can monitor the hallways. The school also offers high school equivalency and elementary classes. "I don't like to use the term functional illiterates, but there are a lot of these fellows," says Gabrielsen. Many are blacks and Chicanos. and English is offered this year as a second language to the Chicano prisoners. Being a convict scholar isn't easy. Most studying is done in their "houses," or cells. Some cellblocks don't become quiet until after 3 a.m.. the inmates say. "I've been here so long. I've become insensitive to the sound," Rose claims. Prison inmate Ed Gray, 36, will graduate cum laude, and plans to continue his studies after graduation. He is the only one of the three graduates living in the prison Minimum Security Building. He was imprisoned in 1960 on a Spokane County conviction of three counts of first-degree murder. He was in college at the tune of his arrest. Before he entered the prison school, he earned 42 college credits in accounting and finance from correspondence courses. Gray works for Prison Industries
and jogs four miles a day around the Minimum Security Building for exercise. "I'd like to get in at least another year • of college behind me on the streets. I'd like to get the masters (degree) in sociology or counseling. I don't think the B.A. is sufficient." He hopes to eventually win parole and get into farm work or some type of counseling. "I think I'd make a darn good counselor. Not in prison; it would have to be some other place," perhaps in the probation and parole field, he says. The third graduate did not want to be identified by name because he doesn't want his ex-wife and child to know he is in prison. Bearded and aged 35, he was committed to the penitentiary in 1972 on a Pierce County conviction of indecent liberties. He has a tentative release date in late 1979. He, too, will graduate cum laude and hopes eventually to teach at the college level and do counseling work. Prison provided his first chance to obtain a college education, he says. "The fact is that that's what I wanted to do on the street. 1 didn't have the money or the opportunity to doit." He has found going to school in prison difficult in some ways. "We have a good library, and we have the possibility of library (book) loans," from the Walla Walla Public Library and the Mid-Columbia Library System, he says. "But sometimes it takes so long for materials to get here, it's hardly worth sending for. Not always, just sometimes." Rose is the only one of the three who has absolutely ruled out counseling as a future occupation. "It would be like the blind leading the blind," he says. He may get a job doing some kind of mechanical or electrical work when
The Walla Walla Chapter of Business and Professional Women Inc. will be represented at the Washington State Federation BPW meeting in Olympia this weekend. Attending the convention at the Tyee Motor Inn will be delegates Dorothy Todd. Doreen Ruley, Sharron Steffen, Margaret Foster and Wilma Bristol. Members attending will be Agnes Peterson. Hazel Highland and Trudy McElhaney. A discussion of the Equal Rights Amendment will be presented by Jean McCarrey of Villa Grove. 111., past national president of the National Federation of BPW. Margaret Chisholm. vice president of relations and development at the University of Washington, will be the keynote speaker. The Washington State Federation of BPW has 2.650 members.
M-F holds mini fair MILTON-FREEWATER — More than 160 third-grade students and teachers from eastern Umatilla County participated in a 4-H mini fair last week at the MiltonFreewater Junior Show. According to Deborah Lee. Umatilla County extension home economist, the students saw sheep-shearing demonstrations, rock painting, wool spinning and weaving demonstrations and many other educational activities.
— Stan Rose, inmate graduate
—Ed Gray, convict scholar
grades in the "C" (average) range, he says. "I've talked to teachers in here and on the outside. They all seem to think that the people (here) are doing as well or sometimes better than their associates at WSU." Inmate students are quicker to debate with their instructors in class than college students on the outside, the prisoners say. Their classes are often smaller than university classes and offer a better chance for discussion and individual attention, they say. The average prison class has 25 to 30 students. Gabrielsen wishes the college could offer post-graduate courses "It's a real scary situation we've got here with guys like Stan. Where do we go from here?" he asks. Gray doesn't think a masters or doctorate program should be offered. There are few enough men ready to obtain a B.A., he says. "Anything else is going to have to be up to the individual." "For some, the goal of a B.A. is seven or eight years away." according to Rose. Preparing people for the basics is one of the mam jobs here."
released, he says.
After graduation, the majority of his reading will be from law books, Rose claims. "I'm only interested in getting myself out of the institution. I don't intend ever to violate anything that's going to get me back in here." Rose believes college is just as effective as the rock piles of years ago at draining convict energies and preventing trouble inside the walls. The cost of educational facilities is well worth it to the public, he says. "I think they get their biggest return keeping a quiet penitentiary and allowing a person to develop himself." Many inmate scholars pay their personal education expenses with G.I. Bill benefits, money they earn working in the institution, and financial aid from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services" division of vocational rehabilitation. The prison college has few "average" students, according to Gabrielsen. Convict students are either strong or weak achievers. Few receive
Don't cut elderly off from world By ABIGAIL VAN BUREN
Professional women to attend convention
'Study is a way of doing time.'
'I think I'd make a darn good counselor.'
DEAR ABBY: I just returned from having visited an elderly friend in a nursing home, and it was so depressing to see all those old people sitting in their rooms just staring at the bare walls I could have cried. The windows are so high they couldn't look out unless they stood up. and most old people cannot stand for very long — if they can stand at all! Abby. why can't they build the windows in those homes lowenough for people to look out of while sitting in their chairs? To see the leaves turn colors, the flowers blooming, the seasons changing, the people and automobiles pass, or even an occasional bird or squirrel would mean so much to them. It couldn't help but reduce their feeling of isolation and loneliness, I hope you care enough to print this.
DEAR ABBY: About the "NERVOUS WRECK" whose husband taught their 15-year-old son to mistreat his mother: The poor woman said. "Our preacher is very young and says he's had no training in marriage counseling, so he can't help me. Besides, he won't even talk to Let's call a spade a spade. people who do not tithe, and my That hypocrite pastor should be husband is one of them. brought to his knees. First, what kind of lily- livered nincompoop can that preacher be? Ask him how he would have dealt with the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar (John 4. N.T.H The Savior this pastor claims to serve broke Jewish tradition by daring even to speak to the woman; I
DEAR SOMEONE: 1 care, too. Thank you for a wonderful letter.
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wonder if she "tithed"? I further wonder at the attitude this hypocrite would take toward the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1- 11) or the widow who cast a mite into the treasury of the temple (Mark 12:41-44)? That smart aleck needs to be "shepherding" a flock like I need a hole in my head, and you can see from this letterhead that I am a preacher.
Rose doesn't believe his new degree will have much impact on the state parole board. "I've been to the board after completing an AA (a two-year associate of arts degree from Walla Walla Community College) and I never noticed a difference." "I don't want to be judged academically. I want to be judged for myself," says Gray. Inmate Kim Smith, 23, expects to be a member of the prison college's graduating class of 1979 or 1980, if he hasn't been paroled by then. He came to the institution mne months ago without a high school diploma, on a sentence of 25 years for strong-arm robbery and kidnaping. He is now doing college work. "No matter how long I do, if they make me do five (years), I'll be 28. Twenty-eight years old with a bachelor's degree. I can still get into business," he says. "There's no other positive direction you can follow in this place. Without this school, there'd be 300 more people out there on the breezeway acting crazy, shooting dope and robbing each other."
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