Alabama Will Spend $5.4 Million For Inmate College Courses

By Christopher Zoukis

In 2015, Alabama will spend $5.4 million on its prisoner postsecondary education program, to include Calhoun Community College's courses at Limestone Correctional Facility.

Five schools across the state provide college-level certifications.  The Community College courses are separate from adult GED programs in the state's prisons.  According to the Alabama Community College System, in Fall 2013, 1,000 inmates were enrolled.  The number of diplomas and certificates are impressive: 254 short-term certificates, 61 certificates, and six associates in applied technology were awarded by the system.  Board policy doesn't allow inmates to enroll in courses that transfer to universities.

Lawmakers allocated the money this spring and were approved by the State Board of Education last week.  The $5.4 million is the same amount spent on postsecondary prison programs this year.

Calhoun Community College has eight full-time and one part-time staff members specifically assigned to the Limestone Correctional Facility.

The college's spokesperson, Janet Kincherlow-Martin, stated that the college spends more than allocated on this program for prisoners, the difference coming out of the school's institutional funding, which is also state-allocated money.  She has also said that there are times when they have to have additional funding.

The certificates Calhoun Community College offers prisoners include welding, construction trades, design drafting technology, and horticulture.  A total of 148 inmates are taking these classes this summer.

To learn more about this terrific prison education program, read the Times Daily's article "State will spend $5.4M for inmate college courses."

This video publicizes how problems brought to light within Alabama's prisons have prompted a broader discussion about overhauling the state's criminal justice system.

How can Alabama stem the flow of people entering prison to begin with? And, for those who are incarcerated, how can they be prepared to effectively and safely re-enter society?