The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office is celebrating the commencement of 12 new graduates from the inmate rehabilitation program known as IGNITE.
“This, no joke if you could look around, you would see we have some incredible people here,” Sheriff Chris Swanson said. “We’ve got family members here. We’ve got city of Flint dignitaries here that are watching what’s happening. We’ve got Mt. Morris schools here.”
The program helps current or former county jail inmates with felony convictions receive an education with classroom instruction and practical training.
“IGNITE, Inmate Growth Naturally Intentionally Through Education, we knew that it’s going to change culture,” Swanson said. “We knew that by doing it right, we can turn the tide of how we take care of people that are incarcerated.”
So far, more than 20,000 coursework hours have been completed. Hundreds of inmates are improving reading by two-and-a-half grade levels and math skills by one-and-a-half grade levels.
The educational programs also include cosmetology, automotive, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, welding, carpentry, financial literacy, and quality control. Alcoholics anonymous and other counseling services are also available.
The program is an attempt to break the cycle of generational incarceration. Statistics show 90 percent of former inmates with at least 14 credit hours don’t come back to incarceration. Emotionally, the whole opportunity, can be a bit overwhelming.
Known as the first program of its kind in Michigan, IGNITE inmates have career options and a new life they couldn’t otherwise consider.