Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 18, 2012

College may take over GED class at prison

Officials say move will help more offenders

PERU — Grace College in Winona Lake will likely be educating offenders at Miami Correctional Facility soon, Indiana Department of Correction officials said.

For two years, Ivy Tech Community College provided GED classes in prisons across the state. Recent contract negotiations, however, fell apart when the state asked Ivy Tech to provide more instructors without offering more money.

The move upset some local Ivy Tech officials who thought the state could afford to pony up a little more money.

“We can’t operate at a loss,” said Jan Bailey, executive director of Ivy Tech Kokomo Region’s corporate college.

The state paid Ivy Tech $680,000 a year for the education programs at Miami Correctional. Bailey estimated, however, that they saved the state $2.1 million through their programs.

Department of Correction Spokesman Doug Garrison recognized the issue.

“I get that they can’t do it for that price,” he said. “There’s no hard feelings here.”

He said the state was satisfied with Ivy Tech’s services, but it has to be concerned with efficiency and spending tax dollars wisely.

“We found out that we could get 13 more teachers and administrative staff for the same price,” he said.

Garrison said Grace College and Oakland City University in Oakland City would likely team up to provide services at every prison in the state.

Oakland City will take the southern half of the state, and Grace College will take the northern half.

Between the two, the state will be able to offer the same programs with more staff for the same price, he said. The contract should be finalized in the next two weeks.

Garrison said it seemed like a win-win situation to him. With the added staff members statewide, the state will be able to teach more offenders.

“We recognize the importance of education,” he said. “It’s one of the great indicators of success upon release.”

Education coupled with substance abuse treatment is known to lower recidivism rates, he said.

In Indiana, 37 percent of offenders return to prison within three years of release.

That’s lower than the nationwide recidivism rate, Garrison said. And in places like California, that number tops 60 percent.

• Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8585 or lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com

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