College may teach Navy brig prisoners

Coastline Community College could start teaching classes at a military prison in San Diego this fall if the school's governing body approves the program.

Coastline faculty would teach on-site entrepreneurship and small-business management classes to prisoners in the Navy brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, about 10 miles north of downtown San Diego.

Trustees of the Coast Community College District, which operates Coastline, will vote on the plan at their board meeting Wednesday night.

Coastline developed the program at the Navy's request, said Peter Maharaj, who works in military and contract education at the college.

"There's been a lot of interest by the service members and the counselors at the brig for the program," he said.

Coastline, which has small campuses in Newport Beach, Garden Grove and Westminster, has a history of running educational programs for civilian prisoners and military members.

Teaching in a Navy brig, however, would be new, Maharaj said.

Coastline plans to offer seven courses over two eight-week sessions and expects about 20 people to enroll in each.

Each class would cost students $169 per unit, money that would come out of prisoners' GI Bill benefits.

"Based off of the contract that we have with the [Department of Defense], basically education is provided, and they can actually utilize that resource if they're convicted," Maharaj said.

The enrollment fees are likely to produce more than $70,000 in revenue for the college, according to board documents.

The brig at the Miramar air station holds about 400 prisons who have committed or are accused of committing a range of offenses, Maharaj said.

"It's everything from petty crime to DUIs to something that could be a little more significant," he said.

Maharaj said Coastline instructors need no additional qualifications to teach at the lockup, which he has visited.

"It's a very unique experience," he said. "Even though it's a prison, it's very structured. It's a military environment."

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