Monday, February 19, 2024
Florida inmates pursue college education, gain redemption.

Florida inmates pursue college education, gain redemption.

Prisoners Given Second Chance with College Education

Prison can be a difficult place, but it can also be a place of redemption, where inmates can discover their own value and help others find theirs. Everglades Correctional Institution, one of four “incentivized” prisons in the Florida Department of Corrections system, is providing prisoners with the opportunity to resume their college education. Tydaraius Newell, an inmate, resumed his college education after a classification employee suggested he apply for a transfer to ECI.

ECI is available only to those who have demonstrated good behaviour and a drive to reform their lives while in more restrictive facilities. ECI provides prisoners with more freedom, visitations, recreation, better menus and it also offers them a chance to become a college graduate.

In 2018, the US Department of Justice, Department of Education, Florida DOC and Miami-Dade College recognized “the power and potential” of the Second Chance Pell program. The federal Second Chance Pell grant program covers the costs of eligible inmates seeking college degrees – at ECI, from Miami-Dade College.

The Power of Education

According to Fermin Vazquez, MDC North Campus interim president, “This is a conversation that will change lives and change our nation because everyone knows that through education there is power.”

MDC awarded 18 associates degrees at ECI last year and now 65 students are attending here and at an adjacent facility. They hope to be handing out 15 bachelor’s degrees next year.

Desmond Meade, who went from prison to a homeless shelter in 2004 with a few bucks and a GED, is now leading the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the Amendment 4 effort to restore voting rights to potentially 1.4 million Floridians who, like him, had felony records. Meade believes education provides individuals with a “turbo boost,” taking them to a different level that no one else can reach.

Success Stories

The Second Chance program has enabled many prisoners to develop their talents and achieve their full potential. Some of them have gone on to lead successful lives after being released from prison. Eddie Fordham, who was released just one year ago from ECI, is working, studying and committing himself to not returning to prison after having served 31 years in prison beginning when he was 18. He is set to finish his associate degree and plans to walk down the aisle in cap and gown at ECI.

Angel Sanchez discovered his gift for the law while in prison and gained his early release. Within a decade, he graduated from three colleges with high honours, most recently the University of Miami law school. He is now working in the Second Chance office.

The RAND study found that inmates in the program are 48% less likely to return to prison after release than those who aren’t in the program. This program is giving prisoners hope and changing their lives for the better.

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About Casper Wong

Casper Wong is an experienced blogger who specializes in education and career development. His blog posts are a valuable resource for individuals seeking guidance on how to succeed in their academic and professional pursuits. With a wealth of knowledge and insights, Casper empowers his readers to reach their full potential and achieve their career goals. Follow him to discover the keys to lifelong learning and career success.

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