June 21, 2017
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and Florida Gateway College hosted an open house for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. FDC was selected by the United States Department of Education as one of 67 sites in the nation for the inmate education program which began on January 24, 2017 at Columbia Correctional Institution Annex.
Secretary Julie Jones said, “Our partnership with Florida Gateway College gives us an opportunity to provide inmates with enhanced educational and training opportunities that better prepare them for a career upon release. Having the opportunity to take college classes while incarcerated can change the trajectory of an inmate’s life and will give them a greater chance of finding gainful employment upon their release. Inmate education is crucial to successful reentry into the community and further reduces Florida’s recidivism rate, which is at an all-time low.”
Dr. Lawrence Barrett, President of Florida Gateway College, said, “It’s an honor to continue Florida Gateway’s successful partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections in providing quality education options to inmates nearing release. The results of collaborations such as this have been demonstrated to help these individuals become productive ex-offenders. We believe that this program addresses the challenge of workforce development for those incarcerated that will be released in the next few years.”
The Second Chance Pell Pilot Program offers Pell Grant eligibility to inmates selected and supervised by FDC who are eligible for upcoming release. Courses leading to the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees as well as high-demand occupational certifications are offered each semester. Florida Gateway College instructors offer secure on-site and online training and staff at Columbia Correctional Institution Annex help facilitate the program by housing program participants in shared housing units.
The U.S. Department of Justice states only 11 percent of inmates in state prisons have completed at least some postsecondary education and, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, 65 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education and training by 2020. Further, in 2013, a RAND Corporation study showed a four-to-one return on taxpayer investment for correctional education programs. The study also indicated that program participants were 43 percent less likely to reoffend after release.
For further information on the program, please contact Mike McKee at Florida Gateway College at (386) 754-4331 or Kristina Hartman at Florida Department of Corrections at (850) 717-3180.
For press inquiries, please contact the Florida Department of Corrections Communications Office at (850) 488-0420.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs 24,000 members statewide, incarcerates approximately 97,000 inmates and supervises nearly 167,000 offenders in the community.