State offering college courses for former inmates - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State offering college courses for former inmates

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Some community colleges offering education programs to inmates. (WFSB) Some community colleges offering education programs to inmates. (WFSB)

A few universities offer free programs to inmates, but the state is now expanding it.

Until now, private institutions were offering classes, but now some of Connecticut’s community colleges are offering free certificates and degrees.

"I was able to re-imagine my prison cell to be a dorm room --- where the bars came down and columns came up,” said Bashaun Brown, who was in prison for a few robberies.

The way he got through the 6-and-a-half years behind bars was by studying.

"Learning different things about literature --- with the liberal arts education helped me unfold the humanity within me,” Brown said.

He took classes through Wesleyan University, and in fact, professors went to the prison.

Brown is now a free man and has been accepted full time at Wesleyan.

Only a few private colleges offer free classes to inmates, but the state is expanding the program to include colleges like Quinebaug Valley Community College, Three Rivers in Norwich, Middlesex Community College in Middletown, and Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield.

"The Pell Grant is going to give these individuals the opportunity to go to college and make some positive changes while they are incarcerated,” said the Department of Corrections Superintendent of Schools Kim Holley.

She oversees the education program at all state prisons and said Pell grants are open to anyone based on income.

For a while, prisoners couldn’t apply but that ban has been lifted.

"This is going to be an opportunity for a lot of people who are ready to make some changes,” Holley said.

Brown is not only getting an education, but has started his own business Trap House, which helps others who have taken the wrong path be entrepreneurs.

"You should want every citizen to be educated to the utmost, especially in prison while you have the time to sit there and study,” Brown said.

The programs available for free are associate degrees and certificates in high demand careers, like business and manufacturing.

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