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Norco College, prison unite to educate and rehabilitate prisoners

By in Press Enterprise on December 26, 2017

By Beau Yarbrough

Sitting at seven rows of desks, 23 Norco College students filled in tiny circles on their Scantron forms.

“It needs to be seven digits,” Jeff Horn, a part-time instructor of Communication Studies at Norco College, told the class. “So add zeroes to the end of your CDC number if you don’t have seven digits.”

All 23 are men. They each wear identical blue shirts and pants, each printed with the words “CDCR Prisoner.” All are inmates at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, a medium security prison on the grounds of the former Lake Norconian Resort.

On Dec. 14, Horn’s students were taking their final in COM 11: Storytelling.

“My presentation is on how Robin Hood became an outlaw,” prisoner Robert Beebe told the class, pacing a little as he spoke. His arms and neck are tattooed, and he has a cherub tattooed on the back of his bald head.

Beebe told how Robin of Locksley’s father died in prison, arrested but never tried for a crime he didn’t commit and how Robin himself ended up killing one of the deer in the king’s forest, a crime that carried the death penalty.

“That day was the last day of his life without enemies,” Beebe said.

Robin joined the Merry Men, whom Beebe described as sitting around a campfire drinking pruno — prison wine — which drew a bark of laughter from one classmate.

“They would rob and they would steal, but they would never hurt a woman,” Beebe said. “But they would rob from the rich and give to the poor. And that’s how he became Robin Hood.”

The partnership between the prison and college has been underway since February.

“It’s right in our backyard and it’s in our core mission,” said Norco […]    

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