Jamaican prisoners will soon be receiving a secondary education as Prisoners-to-College Pipeline makes its way to the Caribbean in a push to improve reintegration strategies.
In April, representatives from the organization will meet with stakeholders such as the University of the West Indies, Mona, the Department of Correctional Services among others.
The program has already received a total of US$100,000 through fundraisers, founder Dr. Baz Dreisinger said. Dreisinger, an English professor from New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, launched the movement as a way to provide a university education to the incarcerated and former prisoners in order to reintegrate them into society and assist them in finding employment on release.
“This program aims to break the stigma that those who have been incarcerated are vastly different from us,” the professor told the Jamaican Observer.
Dreisinger pitched the program last year, announcing the plans for implementation in Jamaica during a briefing at the United States Embassy. However, lack of funding caused temporary delays and slowed the process.
In addition to the college courses, prisoners will be coached in reintegration planning to ready them for reemergence into society. According to research, those inmates involved in the education programs have a lower return-to-custody rate and higher employment and wages following their release, the John Jay Prisoner Reentry Institute states.
Other previous education programs have also proved successful. Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ), a human rights group, announced last year that 82 percent of the Jamaican inmates had successfully completed at least one subject in the Caribbean Secondary Certificate Examinations (CSEC).
“This means they will more readily reintegrate into the society and reduce the risk of reoffending. We are very proud of the inmates and will continue to support them as they prepare for life after prison,” SUFJ Executive Director Maria Carla Gullotta said.
SUFJ has been able to continue its education program for just over five years due to financial assistance from the European Union.