Steven Simmons

Re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated students
Mary Gallagher

A senior in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies’ Upside Down Program with a minor in law, diversity and justice. While working on his associate degree at Skagit Valley College, Simmons helped build a re-entry program for students who had been incarcerated. Now as he completes his bachelor’s degree at Western, Simmons is working on strengthening the program at Skagit while creating a model for other schools to follow.

Nationwide, about two-thirds of people who have been incarcerated end up in prison again. Finding meaningful employment is the greatest single disruptor of the recidivism cycle, Simmons says, and community colleges are well-suited for those who want to rebuild their lives.

At Skagit, Simmons is helping to build a student club featuring guest speakers, service projects and a sense of community for students who are building their lives after imprisonment.

Simmons is graduation soon from Western and wants to pursue a joint law and social work degree to work to reform – or abolish -- the prison system. But he plans to continue working with the re-entry program at Skagit Valley College.

Mary Gallagher is editor of Window magazine

Photo by Rhys Logan ('11)