Monterey Bay Justice Project

Advocating for Project Rebound at CSU Monterey Bay

By Alex Jensen

The Monterey Bay Justice Project (MBJP) is advocating for a Project Rebound chapter at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).

Project Rebound started in 1967 at San Francisco State University by Professor John Irwin. Irwin created this program to aid in the matriculation of formerly incarcerated students into the University. Project Rebound attempts to combat the “revolving door” policy of the criminal justice system, or the likelihood of previous incarcerees to re-enter the system after release. The project has since expanded as a California State University (CSU) network for students to enter the university system after the criminal justice system.

Irwin himself has an interesting history with academia and the criminal justice system. In 1952 he served a five-year prison sentence for armed robbery in robbing a gas station at Soledad State Prison. While serving his sentence, Irwin earned 24 course credits through an extension program. After his release Irwin earned his Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Doctor of Philosophy from University of California (UC) Berkeley. Irwin then became a Professor of Sociology and Criminology at San Francisco State, teaching for 27 years.

In 2016 Project Rebound moved beyond the walls of San Francisco State with the support of CSU Chancellor Timothy White and the Opportunity Institute. There are presently eight other CSU campuses that offer a Project Rebound support center: Bakersfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

MBJP is currently talking with project representatives at Fresno and San Francisco State to see what it might take to get a project started here. The MBJP would not administer Project Rebound, but would be an ally and advocate for the project.

Project Rebound offers a number of support services for formerly incarcerated students, including outreach, admissions assistance, financial aid, tutoring and supplemental instruction, mentorship, academic advising, and counseling, legal, and career services. Additionally, it provides students with a sense of community and an avenue for advocacy.

Many Rebounds are staffed by other formerly incarcerated students and one full-time director. The idea of Project Rebound is to assist former inmates with college credits to enter CSUs and complete their degrees. According to San Francisco State, “By offering resources and connections with supportive entities, Rebound attempts to help students with their basic needs so that they can concentrate on gaining expertise in their field of study and achieve educational and personal empowerment”.

CSUMB could be the next campus to increase access to education for formerly incarcerated students. There remains a need of support services on campus for students with a history in the criminal justice system.