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Educational Programming

Mission:  To provide educational opportunities for prisoners to take responsibility for developing their academic, work, and social competencies in order for them to become contributing, productive members of the prison community while incarcerated and contributing members of their communities upon release from prison.

Prisoner Education is committed to providing academic, technical, and workplace skills training for prisoners designed to enhance their ability to acquire and maintain a job upon release.  This is accomplished within a continuous quality improvement environment which contains cost while providing the most effective programs to ensure every prisoner obtains a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or an Industry-Recognized Certification in Vocational Training prior to leaving prison.  Every eligible prisoner will have  an opportunity to learn workplace skills in Career and Technical Education (CTE), State Correctional Opportunities for Rehabilitation and Education (SCORE) (e.g. Prison Build), Employment Readiness, soft skills training, or other routine work assignments available throughout the Department.


Education Programs:

Employment Readiness/Pre-Release: Employment readiness programming prior to release. Areas included are prisoner education, vocational education, and job placement.

Academic Classes: These classes improve students’ basic skills and prepare them to take the General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Classes offered at MDOC facilities include: Adult Basic Education (ABE) and GED, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Special Education programming.

Career and Technical Education (CTE): CTE programs provide prisoners with specific trades instruction, technical skills and soft skill competencies critical to finding and maintaining employment. These skills are transferable into community employment or community college programming through state and/or federally recognized certifications upon completion. Correctional Education provides CTE programming in a flexible schedule offering open entry and open exit enrolment. School principals ensure classroom enrolment is maximized and waiting lists are kept to a minimum so each prisoner can achieve educational goals as efficiently and economically as possible.

Special institutional and community projects provide prisoners the opportunity to demonstrate hands-on skills through job-related programming and restorative justice opportunities.

Trades Programs are responsive to labor market demands.

Career and Technical Counseling (CTC) (Formerly Vocational Counseling): Career interest and aptitude assessment is provided to prisoners. The counseling, which accompanies the test administration, assists the prisoner in selecting CTE programming within the prisons and in determining career paths upon release.

Chance for Life (CFL): CFL is a voluntary program offered at select facilities intended to support workforce entry, job readiness skills, life skills, and behavior modification to provide positive adjustment of prisoners upon their release from prison.

College (Post-Secondary Programs): Prisoners are allowed to participate in post-secondary classes geared towards college credit or enrichment at their own expense. Our correspondence course Policy Directive “Correspondence Courses” (05.02.119) allows prisoners to take college classes through the mail from a number of colleges and universities, including Ohio University, Delta College, and Montcalm Community College, to name a few.

Some colleges also offer courses face to face inside the prison. Jackson Community College (JCC) and the University of Michigan Dearborn are currently providing credit-barring classes inside correctional facilities. The VERA Grant allows the expansion of these classes through JCC, Kalamazoo Community College, and Oakland Community College. The Department is looking to expand these opportunities for prisoners and realize the effect post-secondary education has on recidivism.

 Routine Work Assignment (RWA): The Department is committed to providing prisoners with an opportunity to acquire job skills and develop positive and constructive work habits to improve their employment readiness, opportunities, and potential wages both in the institution and upon their return to the community. Therefore, whenever possible, prisoners should be placed in Routine Work Assignments that will provide work experience relevant to the current job market. In addition, when feasible, the prisoner’s work day should simulate the work day in the community.

State Correctional Opportunities for Rehabilitation and Education (SCORE)/Prison Build: This program, formerly called Prison Build, allows prisoners to gain valuable work experience producing various items for non-profit organizations and state agencies. The MDOC collaborates with numerous organizations including Habitat for Humanity, The Children’s Trust Fund, the Ionia Free Fair, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Human Services, Goodwill Industries, and various Food Banks and Homeless Shelters. Items produced include: house walls, cabinets, beds, countertops, picnic tables, landscaping plants, trees, and native grasses. Prisoners that participate in this program are trained in MDOC Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes and earn state and/or national certifications. Under the umbrella of SCORE, prisoners participate in restorative justice projects while contributing to the community.