The Massachusetts Department of Corrections views Boston University faculty as volunteers. Faculty should be familiar with the DOC Volunteer Handbook and the Department of Correction website which contains information on the facility where you will be teaching, including details on volunteer dress code and directions.
Program Structure and Faculty
The Boston University Prison Education Program is part of Metropolitan College (MET). One of seventeen degree-granting bodies that make up Boston University, MET offers rigorous academic programs and cutting-edge professional training in evening, part-time, and online formats.
Ordering Your Textbooks
Orders for books can be placed with the Prison Education administration team. Dr. Rousseau and Jim Matesanz will process the order and the books will be sent directly to the prison. The earlier you can specify the books you wish to use in your class, the better. Boston University strives to reuse previously purchased books whenever it is pedagogically justifiable, and the professor is amenable. Please review the list of previously used books by location to see if there is a book you were planning to use, or one which you would like to order for your class.
In preparing to select your texts, please first review the book inventories for both MCI Framingham and MCI Norfolk. If the Prison Education Program already has a text you would like to utilize, please let us know. Texts can be transferred from institution to institution.
All textbooks must pass through security inspections at the prison, which can slow down the process of getting books to your students. It is advisable to bring photocopied material to your first class (observing copyright regulations), just in case your books have not yet arrived at the school. If you have any questions regarding textbook orders, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to help assist in the process.
Boston University Procedures
Grading of Prison Education Program students is conducted in the same way as the grading of students in BU’s Metropolitan College. At the end of each semester, grades must be entered via the WebGrading system in the Faculty Link.
New faculty will have to create a BU account in order to access the WebGrading system.
Proofing Class Lists
Registration in prison programs can be more complex than registration on a campus. Computerized class lists may contain errors that are hard to correct when grades are due, and are even more difficult to repair after the semester is complete.
In the middle of the semester, we require that you check your class lists on the Faculty Link. You may note that some students in your class are not listed, while others are listed but not present in your class. It is important that you take a moment to report any discrepancies to Dr. Rousseau or Jim Matesanz. They will ensure that these errors are corrected.
New faculty will have to create a BU account in order to access the Faculty Link.
Department of Correction Program, Educational & Treatment Staff
The Department of Correction (DOC) educational staff orients BU instructors at the beginning of their service, and provides ongoing support and guidance throughout the duration of their courses.
The dedication and discipline that the DOC educational staff bring to their work is impressive. They work continuously with the same students for as long as it takes to make progress, and offer support all the way through to graduation.
Interacting with the Department of Correction
This topic is addressed at length in the FAQ, however, there are a few things are worth singling out here: DOC Attendance Sheets, “Good Time,” and your DOC Orientation.
DOC Attendance Sheets
All students, except those serving mandatory sentences, receive “good time” for attending class—a maximum of 2.5 hours per BU class attended. Over a long sentence, this can mean leaving prison weeks or months earlier, so it is very important to our students. It is also important to the DOC that “good time” be recorded accurately and in a timely fashion. The DOC depends on BU faculty to complete Attendance Sheets in order to calculate “good time.” It is imperative that we respect and respond to this important function of the DOC by doing our part carefully and punctually.
Students can miss part of a class because of a doctor’s appointment, an arranged canteen (prison store) visit, or even their scheduled haircut. Prisoners cannot alter their schedule and the DOC strictly monitors their location. If attendance sheets have errors that indicate our students are in two places at once, it can jeopardize both the program and our students.
Do not assume that the accuracy of the DOC listing is reflected in your online BU class list. The two are unrelated and should be dealt with separately.
BU professors do not have to complete the calculations for “good time,” but we do have to complete the DOC Attendance Sheets after the final class meeting. The completed sheets must be returned to the BU clerk for Framingham or Norfolk; or to Claire Corsini for South Middlesex, or slid under the door of room 205 for Bay State. The DOC determines how much “good time” a prisoner who attends BU classes earns.
One student who was in prison for eleven years earned enough “good time” to be released almost two years earlier than his official release date. BU students, whether enrolled in a program or auditing a course, receive 2.5 days of “good time” for every month they attend 80% of the classes held. In practical terms, this means that students must attend all class meetings in a typical 4-week month. Attending 4 out of 5 classes in a 5-week month is 80%. If their attendance is partial (2 out of 3 hours only, due to a doctor’s appointment, etc), then partial hours during the month are totaled and can still reach 80%. This information is not intended to guide how you structure your classes, rather to help you understand the meaning of “good time” to our prison students.
No “good time” is available to students unless class meets at least two times in the course of a given month. Therefore, keep in mind when scheduling the start and end dates of your classes. A class held only once during the month is sometimes pedagogically necessary, but it will not allow your students to earn “good time.” Finally, prisoners with mandatory minimum sentences are not eligible to earn “good time” at all, but still need to be accounted for on the DOC Attendance Sheets.
New teachers must undergo a brief orientation by the DOC. It need not precede your first day of class, but new faculty should contact school principals to arrange the timing. Before the orientation, DOC staff will expect that you have reviewed the DOC Volunteer Handbook. The following is a list of the orientation requirements for each institution, which apply even to experienced prison education teachers who may not have taught at the institution before:
- Call Ruth Nuyokas, Principal, at 508-660-5900, extension 216, to arrange an orientation in her office.
Framingham or South Middlesex Prerelease Center
- Call Marcia Gannon, Principal, at 508-875-5258, extension 143, to arrange an orientation.
Institutions vary, so it is important to contact them before the first day of class. This way you can coordinate your orientation for a day that you are already scheduled to go into the prison to teach.
Annual Faculty Colloquium
Once a year we schedule a faculty get-together on campus. This serves as a chance to develop as a group of colleagues, since only one teacher at a time appears at any given prison. It is a useful time to share experiences and teaching strategies; further, due to privacy concerns, it is the only opportunity to speak openly about students with others who may know them. Generally, the BU Prison Education Faculty Colloquium is scheduled after midterms in the fall.