JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -Many say people deserve a second chance, and a local college is doing just that for inmates by providing them with higher education.
Arkansas Department of Corrections inmates will soon have the opportunity to further their education in the technical field from Arkansas State University-Newport.
The announcement was made last week on the department’s Facebook page.
Officials said 10 women from the McPherson unit will take courses in welding, while 10 men from the Grimes unit will focus on diesel mechanics.
The university has served over 800 inmates since 2003, and now the facilities want to take it a step further by filling the “skills gap” of what employers are searching for, once they are released.
“The education opportunities that we provide, they can go out and be just as competitive as the college students we have here today,” says Dr. Sandra Massey, ASU-Newport’s chancellor. “They can make a salary anywhere from $38,000 to $42,000 (per year) just starting. Then, obviously there’s more opportunity after that.”
Massey added the school is in the business of transforming lives, and there’s no exception for those in the correctional facility.
“We know that individuals who have an opportunity for education while they’re in prison can reduce the recidivism rate by 43% and they’re about 13% more likely to go to work,” Massey said.
The Second Chance Pell Grant will help fund tuition, books, fees, and equipment used to complete the courses.
Years ago, faculty used to teach general education courses at the prisons, but now inmates will get to feel like a student on campus in the evenings.
The inmate students are expected to begin class this coming January, according to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.