Prisons Education Services provides a wide range of services to offenders in every state-run facility. Services vary from basic education, high school equivalency, life skills, career and vocational to degree programs. Education Services works to provide a certification or degree of some sort, preferably state or national certification.

Education Services has established partnerships with more than two-thirds of the state’s community colleges, as well as postsecondary institutions such as the University of North Carolina system and private colleges. Funding for education in prisons is provided through varied sources, including non-profit foundation grants, donations from individuals, Federal 2nd Chance Pell grants, and the General Assembly. 

There are two main goals of Prisons' correctional education:

  1. Equipping offenders with skills designed to help them become responsible and productive individuals who can manage their incarceration, and
  2. Upon release, connecting offenders with the kinds of opportunities and employment that will enable them to support themselves, their families and, subsequently, their communities. 

The benefits of effective prison education also extend beyond individual offenders and ex-offenders. Studies show that most offenders are rearrested within 3-5 years of release. However, there is a 43% reduction in recidivism rates for offenders who participated in prison education programs. Indeed, the higher the degree, the lower the recidivism rate. A study from the University of California at Los Angeles found that prison education is almost twice as cost effective as incarceration. Additionally, one can conclude that the funds spent on prison education benefit the general public as educated, released offenders have been shown to contribute to safer communities, productive citizens, and lower recidivism costs.

Prison education has remarkable and often life-changing benefits, even while offenders are still incarcerated. There is a substantial reduction in violence and disciplinary infractions among offenders actively involved in prison education. For example, reports from various education providers have shown students enrolled in college classes committed fewer infractions than those who were not enrolled. Prison education significantly improves relationships between staff members and the incarcerated, and dramatically enhances the offenders’ self-confidence resulting in a generally more positive outlook on life.

Prisons Education Services believes that correctional education is an integral part of the total rehabilitation process. Education is capable of changing offenders’ behaviors and systems of thinking, thereby encouraging offenders to become law-abiding, productive members of the community upon release. 

System-Wide Programs Offered


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Prisons Education Services partners with 43 state community colleges and six other post-secondary institutions of higher learning. Through these partnerships, offenders can obtain basic and postsecondary educational opportunities that will assist them in obtaining and sustaining employment upon release. Additionally, offenders can participate in programming designed to teach them to apply the principles of cognitive behavioral intervention, social skills and mindset, and financial management. 

More than 103 vocational programs are offered within state-run prisons to offenders. 

Prisons Education Services work to improve and increase opportunities to earn degrees and state/national certifications. Partnerships with higher education institutions provide an array of opportunities for offenders to earn a living wage upon release.

The following are some postsecondary opportunities offered to offenders in state-run prisons:

  • Sampson Correctional Institution - Offers a 2-year degree program in liberal arts in partnership with Campbell University;
  •  Albemarle Correctional Institution - Offers a 2-year degree program in associate applied science in HVAC in partnership with Stanly Community College;
  • Nash Correctional Institution - Offers a 4-year degree program in pastoral care in partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; 
  • North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women - Offers a 4-year degree program in business administration in partnership with The College at Southeastern, as well as a national certification in personal fitness training through Shaw University;
  • Piedmont Correctional Institution and Anson Correctional Institution - Offer a LEED (Leadership Environmental Energy Design) certification from the United States Green Council in partnership with Guilford College;
  • Dan River Prison Work Farm and Anson Correctional Institution - Offer a peer support specialist 40-hour certification in partnership with Guilford College;
  • Pamlico Correctional Institution - Offers a 2-year degree program in human service technology in partnership with Pamlico Community College;
  • Western Correctional Institution for Women - Offers 36 hours of college transferable credit courses in human resource development in partnership with Warren Wilson College;
  • Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution - Offers 66 hours of college transferable credit courses in entrepreneurship in partnership with UNC-Asheville.

Most facilities also offer correspondence courses for self-directed learning for offenders in partnership with UNC-Chapel-Hill.

Prisons College Programs



The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates educational agencies to locate, identify and evaluate all individuals with disabilities who may be in need of special education and related services. Students under the age of 22 identified as a student with a disability receive their education in the Division of Prisons at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, Granville Correctional Institution in Butner, Richmond Correctional Institution in Hoffman, or and Foothills Correctional Institution in Morganton.

The Department of Adult Correction adheres to the guidelines set forth in Procedures Governing Programs and Services for Children with Disabilities. Upon entering correctional facilities, offenders are screened in a diagnostic center. The admission process includes an interview of the offender by a case manager to collect additional information that may indicate a need for further screening. If the screening process reveals that a student who is 21 or less has academic deficits, functional deficits and/or behavioral problems, a referral to the School Assistance Team (SAT) is generated. The SAT team collects additional information including, but not limited to public school records, classroom performance, admission test performance, infraction records and mental health information.

After reviewing this information, the SAT determines whether to refer the student to the Individualized Education Program team for more testing. When the team refers a student for more testing, permission is obtained from the offender (if he/she has reached the age of majority) or his/her parent(s)/guardian/custodian. Once all evaluations have been completed, the team determines the student’s eligibility for special education services.

If the team determines the student is eligible for Exceptional Student Program (ESP) services, the team develops an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to meet the academic, functional performance and/or behavior needs of the student, and consent for placement is obtained from the student (if he/she has reached age of majority) or the parent(s)/guardian/custodian of the student. Offenders who are identified as requiring English as a Second Language (ESL) or a 504 plan (accommodations or services) go through a different specialized screening process:

Project Child Find

The Exceptional Children Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is looking for all offenders ages birth through 21 with special needs who may not be receiving the help needed.

For MORE information regarding Child Find, or if you suspect your student may have a disability and need special education and/or related services, please contact Polycarp Omollo, Federal Programs Coordinator, at or 984-255-6159.

NCDPI EC Division Child Find webpage    

Parent Rights & Responsibilities in Special Education: NC Notice of Procedural Safeguards

The IDEA requires schools to provide parents of a child with a disability a notice containing full explanation of the procedural safeguards (legal rights) available under the IDEA and the federal regulations. Students 18 and above receive the notice of procedural safeguards themselves. Additional information can be found at the US Department of Education's searchable website at One can view the Rights and Responsibilities in Special Education: Notice of Procedural Safeguards at these links:

Parent Rights (English) Parent Rights (Spanish)

This handbook is designed to support students and families with the understanding of the rights and responsibilities specific to the special education process. Acronyms and terms often used in special education and resources can be found in the appendices. If, at any time, you suspect your offender may have a disability and is in need of special education and/or related services, you may request an evaluation, in writing, to Polycarp Omollo, Federal Programs Coordinator, at or 984-255-6159.

Exceptional Children Division Website

The mission of the Office of Exceptional Children is to ensure that students with disabilities develop intellectually, physically, emotionally and vocationally through the provision of an appropriate individualized education program in the least restrictive environment.

NCDPI Exceptional Children Division Website

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for Families

NCDAC Education Services provides a layered system of support called a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) so all students can grow academically, behaviorally and emotionally. MTSS is a framework for continuous school improvement and uses evidence-based practices, a data-driven problem-solving model, and a three-tiered instruction/intervention model to maximize growth for all students. MTSS combines Response to Instruction (RTI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) into one effective and efficient approach. 

NC Multi-Tiered System of Support

Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) for Families

Other Quick Links

NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

American With Disabilities Act (ADA)

NCDPI Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

There are four institutions designated to house incarcerated youth who meet the definition of being “delinquent or neglected,” according to the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. This definition includes youth who are "... incarcerated for at least 30 days, are younger than 21 years of age, and have not completed 12th grade."

These institutions are:

  • Foothills Correctional Institution;
  • Richmond (Minimum-Custody) Correctional Institution;
  • North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women; and 
  • Granville Correctional Institution.

High school equivalency classes at the four schools are taught by 47 state-certified teachers assigned to the facilities. Local community college instructors supplement educational offerings at each facility. Certified principals lead these four schools, with support from school counselors and school psychologists assigned at the facilities. 

The purpose of Title I is to improve educational services for neglected and delinquent “children” and youth housed in adult correctional facilities, thereby contributing to closing the achievement gap. Title I focuses on the following goals:

  • Maintaining and improving educational achievement for students who qualify;
  • Preparing students for smooth transition to regular education or other educational programs; 
  • Enabling students to complete high school equivalency requirements; 
  • Preparing students to obtain employment after leaving an institution; and
  • Preparing students to transition back into their communities as productive members of society.

The Title I program provides supplementary instruction to language arts and math programs in Prisons. It is designed to enhance, not take the place of, regular instruction. 


Study release allows offenders to participate in academic or vocational training programs away from the correctional facility and not supervised by a correctional employee or an agent of the Department of Adult Correction.

Criteria for Participation

Prisons policy requires:

  • The offender must be in the final stage of minimum custody and must have participated in other community-based activities outside the correctional facility; and
  • The offender must have the potential for release through parole, work release or sentence expiration following the completion of the designated study release program.

Program Operation

Eligible offender requests must be reviewed to determine if:

  • The course of study which the offender wishes to pursue is not available on site at an appropriate correctional facility;
  • The course of study for the participant will significantly enhance the offender's opportunity of being a productive citizen upon release;
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the offender has the capability of successfully completing the designed study release program;
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the offender will honor all the conditions for the study release participation and not abuse the privilege; and
  • Offenders request study release through their prison case manager. Prison managers must review and approve the request.


Dr. Brooke Wheeler, Superintendent of Education Services 
Phone: 984-255-6177 

Emma Brooks, Librarian Consultant 
Phone: 984-255-6161 

Duane Cogdell, Vocational Education Extension Specialist 
Phone: 919-647-9480 

Travis Cooper, Technology Facilitator 
Phone: 984-204-2846 

Sherri Hill, High School Equivalency Education Specialist 
Phone: 984-255-6168

Polycarp Omollo, Federal Programs Coordinator
Phone 984-255-6159

Dr. Shanon White, Curriculum and Student Data Coordinator 
Phone: 984-255-6160 

Sharon Van Hoy, Programs Development Coordinator 
Phone: 984-255-6157 

Shilyn Sodagar, Administrative Specialist I 
Phone: 984-255-6163 

Manju Pearson, Compliance Specialist

Jonathan Metellus, Transition Coordinator