Prison education to grow after multi-year grant awarded to Jackson College


JACKSON, MI (WLNS) – Jackson College received a multi-year Pell Grant from the Michigan Department of Education to give more people behind bars a chance to get an education. Meaning, instructors are helping students in the free world and those behind bars.

“We expect to impact a lot of lives. But, it will start out in a more measured way to build our own capacity, the capacity of the Department of Corrections and certainly each students’ ability to succeed in those classes,” said Jackson College Arts and Sciences Dean Todd Butler.

One Jackson College instructor has been with the pilot program from the start. It’s something he has seen grow from a handful of inmates.

“They see themselves very different then they had in the past and what they are capable of. And they often say they feel like they have a legitimate and realistic plan moving forward for when they get released,” said Jackson College Program Instructor Kevin Rose.

The program allows low-level inmates with less than five years left behind bars a chance to earn a degree.

Butler said, “the students who have been chipping away at this one class at a time paid for mainly by their families or a support system back in their communities. Those students have built up a capacity and are ready to go. And, we want to ramp up with them first.”

Yet, officials know some are against educating inmates. But, still hope people can get behind it.

Michigan Department of Corrections Spokesperson Chris Gautz said, “you know, which person would you rather have live next door to you, move in once they’re paroled? Do you want to have a person with a college education or do you want to have a person in that life of crime with no discernible skills when they left?”

Meaning those who go through this program have a better chance of getting back into the real world and out of trouble.

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