All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

National Higher Education Day came and went. Did you notice?

Monday, June 6, was National Higher Education Day. Why such a day? “It was designed to educate and inspire future graduates.” Boring. And so, more often than not, the day goes unnoticed. 

Well, it’s not going unnoticed here! 

On Monday, National Higher Education Day, more than 60 prisoners graduated from Jackson Community College at G. Robert Cotton and Cooper Street Correctional Facilities here in Michigan! By this time next week, similar numbers of prisoners will have graduated, in similar ceremonies ,at Parnall CF in Jackson, Lakeland CF in Coldwater, Gus Harrison CF in Adrian, and Women’s Huron Valley CF in Ypsilanti! All from Jackson CC! 

Supporters of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS know that we recently helped spread the word about some prison graduates at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia last month. And for good reason. 76 students from the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes, after a COVID delay, finally got the recognition they had worked for in a combined ceremony. Calvin Prison Initiative is a joint project of Calvin University and the Calvin Theological Seminary. 20 inmates every year are enrolled in the Calvin program to get college degrees. 

A similar program has been launched in the Muskegon Correctional Facility by Hope College and Western Theological Seminary of Holland. 

A fair question is: Why give a rat’s ass? Who cares whether men and women in prison have the opportunity to go back to school? Our answer is, you darned well better care! Northwestern University explains why: 

Even for those who are serving lengthy—even natural life—sentences, prison education has profound and often life-changing benefits. There is a substantial reduction in violence and disciplinary infractions among those involved in prison education. A survey of an Indiana prison, for instance, showed that incarcerated people who were enrolled in college classes committed 75% fewer infractions than incarcerated people who were not enrolled. Prison education also breaks down racial and ethnic barriers that are often a cause of tension and violence in prisons, significantly improves relations between staff members and the incarcerated, and dramatically enhances the prisoners’ self-esteem. 

Congrats to Calvin, congrats to Hope, congrats to JCC, congrats to the MDOC! 

Let’s not only applaud the efforts to educate, and the efforts of those getting educated, but NOW let’s think outside of the box as to how we can get these men and women out of there and back into society! We need them! They need a new life! 

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world."  Nelson Mandella



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