Kent State to offer inmates at Trumbull Correctional Institution college degree

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WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Officials at Kent State Trumbull announced Tuesday that they are launching a program to offer an opportunity for inmates at Trumbull Correctional Institution to earn a college degree.

Beginning this fall, Kent State University at Trumbull will offer inmates a chance to complete a Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies (BTAS).

Most funding will come from support from local foundations.

Kent State Trumbull and LaunchNET Kent State will join Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio to complete the new program partnership.

Sinclair has offered an Associate in Business Management there for two years, so its first graduates will be ready to begin working on their bachelor’s this fall. Along with the degree, students can complete a certificate in entrepreneurship through the program. 

“We chose the BTAS with entrepreneurship training because it is difficult for individuals with felonies to get hired by employers,” said Kristenne Robison, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, criminology and justice studies. “By developing their entrepreneurial mindset and skills, as well as putting credentials in their hands, graduates of the program can start a business, pursue funding for their entrepreneurial efforts or offer value to local employers.”

A 2013 Rand study found that individuals who participated in a correctional education program while incarcerated were 43% less likely to reoffend in comparison to their peers who did not.

A 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that over the course of three decades — from 1979 to 2013 — state and local spending on prisons and jails increased at three times the rate of funding for pre-K through 12. 

“So this becomes a community effort to prevent recidivism and reinvest in individuals who want to make a change,” Robison said. “Many of our local foundations realized the potential benefits for this program and made significant contributions to help launch it.”

A list of donors includes:

  • Burton D. Morgan Foundation
  • The Raymond John Wean Foundation
  • The Youngstown Foundation
  • Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley
  • The Thomases Family Endowment 

Congress reinstated access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students last December. The FAFSA Simplification Act is set to take effect no later than July 1, 2023.

Pell Grants are funded through taxpayer dollars.

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