Starting next week, Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will begin offering a variety of certificate programs to incarcerated individuals as part of a federal pilot program known as “Second Chance Pell.” Asnuntuck was one of sixty-seven schools selected nationwide by the White House to participate. This initiative seeks to equip inmates with job skills necessary to become contributing members of society upon their release. The program provides federally-funded Pell Grants to eligible incarcerated students who are close to completing their sentences.
To be eligible, potential students must demonstrate excellent behavior and meet all academic and financial requirements. A total of 16 low-risk, near release students will on campus at ACC. An additional 400 inmates will be taught by ACC faculty at the area correctional facilities. The 16 students coming to campus are currently located at low security, reintegration facilities and a high percentage are veterans. Inmates enrolled in the program must qualify and fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as other students enrolled in college must do. This program is funded through Federal Pell dollars earmarked for this population, and it is not taking away resources from Connecticut students.
Asnuntuck will be providing instruction at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC), in Enfield, as well as at the MacDougall, Osborn, Robinson and Willard Cybulski correctional facilities in the disciplines of Marketing, Business Administration, Human Services Management and Advanced Manufacturing Technology. The on-campus Manufacturing component will restricted to the AMTC (not classrooms). Manufacturing has an important hands-on component which is what makes instruction on campus, for a portion of the instruction, so important.
“This type of partnership between the Department of Correction and Asnuntuck Community College, generated through the Second Chance Pell Program, speaks to the collaboration necessary to support successful community reentry. By breaking through silos, we can have a generational impact on recidivism,” says Connecticut Department of Corrections Commissioner Scott Semple. The Department of Correction will have a parole officer periodically on campus. Two full-time instructors and one of ACC’s safety officers, are assigned to the class. All of ACC’s safety officers are former CT Department of Corrections Officers. The safety officer will be with them at all times. The AMTC contains the restrooms, classrooms and all equipment needed for instruction. Inmates will not be leaving that area.
Inmates enrolled in the on-campus program will be contained in the Advanced Manufacturing Technology area of the college. They have met strict assessment criteria from the Department of Correction. The students are from the lowest level correctional facility in the State.
Low-risk inmates are frequently involved in assisting with community based projects outside of the prison, including set-up for The Enfield Fourth of July Town Celebration. The college’s security plan has been reviewed with Enfield’s Chief of Police.
Asnuntuck is one of four community colleges within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system participating in the Second Chance Pell Program. Schools chosen demonstrated strong partnerships with state correctional institutions as part of the criteria along with a focus on supporting successful reentry. The national goal is to enroll approximately 12,000 incarcerated students across the country who are likely to be released within five years.
- The Second Chance Pell program is a response to recommendations by President Obama’s My Brothers’ Keeper Task Force
- The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world with approximately 2.2 million people in American prisons and jails
- According to a study by the Department of Justice, incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years