Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg visited Fort Dodge Correctional Facility Tuesday morning to learn about the current education system offered at the prison in partnership with Iowa Central Community College.
Gregg met with representatives from the facility, the Iowa Corrections, and the college.
Dean of Business and Industrial Technology Neale Adams explained their use of the 2016 Second Chance Pell Grant to fund inmate education.
“In the beginning, we started with a lot of different programs, and these have evolved over time depending on the facilities available. We have had enormous academic success with our students ”, Adams said.
He also said that the facilities they currently use are limited.
The Director of Adult Education and Literacy, Abby Underberg, also serves as the Correctional Education Liaison.
“Between Neale and I, we started the program without really knowing what we were doing. It’s really a long way from where we started, but there is so much more we could potentially do. That’s why we’re here today, to talk about opportunities and how we can grow and provide better opportunities and better pathways for students as well ”, she said.
Iowa Central President Jesse Ulrich said he is often asked what Iowa Central can do to help the workforce and train more workers.
“These people here are busy, productive and preparing to re-enter society. When they have a degree in their pocket and jobs ready to go, they will be more successful once they leave the institution and hopefully not have to come back ”, he said. “This program also helps our workforce with a flow of workers.”
Ulrich cited a case where a company recently argued at a hearing for an inmate to be granted parole because he was a great worker for their company.
Iowa Central Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Kersten said: “The college has mobilized over $ 2.1 million in Second Chance Pell Grants to cover the cost of servicing 760 incarcerated students from 2016 to present.”
Additionally, through a grant, Iowa Central is working on the implementation of several people across the state to serve as Correctional Education Navigators statewide. These navigators will provide advice to inmates who are either released or transferred to another institution and who wish to continue their education.
Gregg said he is very interested in this program as he heads the FOCUS Committee on Criminal Justice Reform.
“One of the things that we have looked at through this committee is how we can improve the reintegration process for those who leave prison. So programs like the Second Chance Pell Scholarship help us make sure that we prepare people for success when they leave prison ”, he said.
Gregg was presented with ideas of an expansion to the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility that would consist of an industrial training center building to serve more inmate students. After touring the grounds and current educational facilities, said Gregg.
“It has been very helpful to understand the space they are working in and they have ideas and ideas for potential expansion. This is something that I will report to the Governor for her review as we make budget decisions and prioritize some of the federal dollars available to our state. “