LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Department of Corrections is working on several efforts to teach community college courses and vocational training in-house to a small number of inmates near parole.
The effort comes after years without funding for prisoners to access higher education, The Detroit News reported Monday, and Michigan is joining a pilot project that could provide evidence to back the idea of postsecondary education in prisons nationwide.
“We want to build the evidence that investment in postsecondary education is a cost-effective intervention and a wise use of public dollars,” said Fred Patrick of the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice, an independent, nonprofit research and policy group.
“We also want to show it succeeds at reducing recidivism, supports families and contributes to the economic base of communities.”
With a four-year, $1 million grant as part of the Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education project, the pilot effort will take place at several Michigan facilities. There are about 42,000 inmates in Michigan’s state prisons. Of those, nearly half come in with a high school diploma or GED certificate.
Michigan in the past has tried to find funding to offer opportunities in higher education to inmates. Such programs have rolled out in pockets, offering training in vocational areas such as auto shop, truck driving and small engine repair.