PEEWEE VALLEY, Ky. — More Kentucky inmates will have the chance to work toward a college degree thanks to Simmons College. Louisville’s only historically Black college will begin teaching classes at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women this fall.
Currently, inmates at Northpoint Training Center and Luther Luckett Correctional Complex already offer classes. The program is federally funded and costs Kentucky taxpayers nothing.
Gov. Andy Beshear (D) spoke at Tuesday’s announcement held at the women’s prison, saying “What we are doing is providing more opportunity, more education, more job placement at no cost to Kentucky taxpayers.”
Ravonne Sims, the Director of Education for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, says this partnership will offer wrap around services for inmates who qualify. Meaning they’ll receive the same resources someone normally enrolled at Simmons would receive.
“It’s been very difficult for them up to this point to experience what success is and typically what we see is once they experience that, they want to perpetuate over and over and over again,” Sims said. “So for them to be able to come in here with nothing and be able to leave with a degree is very meaningful and significant for them.”
Dr. Javan Reed, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Simmons College says classes will be offered both virtually and in person to inmates who have at least 12 months left of their sentence or to become eligible for parole.
“This is monumental today because we have an opportunity to open the doors of high education to sisters, mothers, and daughters and those who want an opportunity to do something different post-release,” Reed said.
He adds programs like this help keep people from re-offending once they are released.
“The research shows that those who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, 98% of those have not re-offended or went back to prison,” Reed said.
The expansion of this program comes just days after the governor announced the rate at which Kentuckians re-offend and end up back in prison is at a record low at just over 27%.
Sims says it’s her hope that one day, this federally funded education program will be offered in every Kentucky prison.
So far, 150 inmates at the women’s prison say they are interested in enrolling.
In a release from the governor’s office about this partnership, it states upon earning a degree, inmates will be eligible to apply for jobs with a salary range of $40,000 to $80,000 annually.