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Three Michigan colleges selected for pilot program to give inmates a second chance through higher education

Monday, June 27, 2016

LANSING – Three Michigan colleges will provide nearly 1,500 prisoners with access to higher education through a federal pilot program that provides financial aid to inmates interested in pursuing a degree.

Delta College, Jackson College and Mott Community College were among 67 higher education institutions nationwide selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, which helps cover the cost of postsecondary education for state and federal prisoners.

“Most incarcerated individuals in Michigan will eventually be released once they have completed their sentence, so it is important that they re-enter society with the tools they need to be successful, law-abiding citizens,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “Education can serve as a gateway to new careers that prevents them from returning to a life of crime and encourages more positive contributions to their community.”

The program aims to help prisoners gain the education and skills they need to secure jobs and successfully rejoin the community following release.

Jackson College was awarded the most grants of any higher education institution nationwide, with financial aid available to 1,305 eligible prisoners for classes.

Delta College will be able to offer grants to 15 inmates and Mott Community College will have grants for 155 inmates.

“A quality education is one of the most powerful tools for future success,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “Providing inmates with access to higher education improves their chances for leading productive and stable lives in the community and enhances public safety by reducing the likelihood they will re-offend.”

Classes are available to prisoners at 18 state correctional facilities and Michigan’s only federal correctional facility, in Milan. Those who qualify will receive federal aid for educational expenses such as tuition, fees and books. Prisoners must be within five years of their earliest release date when enrolling in order to be eligible.