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People in N.H. prisons can soon take classes through two local community colleges

Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility
White Mountain Community College will offer programs in business administration and liberal arts to incarcerated people the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility.

Incarcerated individuals at the NH State Prison for Men and the New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women will be able to study manufacturing, medical coding, hospitality and tourism through NHTI this fall, after the school was given a Pell grant and approval to educate people in New Hampshire prisons.

NHTI applied for and received a Second Chance Pell grant as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Initiative (ESI). NHTI, along with White Mountain Community College in Berlin, are two of 73 institutions of higher education across the country that were selected for the current round of the Second Chance Initiative, bringing the total number of participating schools to 200.

The college will send instructors to teach in person at the corrections facilities, although there are online options, according to Andrew Fisher, vice president of academic affairs at NHTI. There will be 8-week and 16-week courses in a traditional semester-based system.

The community college’s goal is to help people transitioning out of prison to re-engage and gain economic stability, while also helping the state of New Hampshire add qualified people to the workforce and address challenges of recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend).

“Creating opportunities for people to develop their talents and abilities and enabling them to contribute to their community and this state is central to the work that we do at NHTI, WMCC and across the entire Community College System of New Hampshire,” said Mark Rubinstein, interim president of NHTI and chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire. “I believe that these educational opportunities can help individuals coming out of incarceration fulfill their purpose in life. This is an essential part of fulfilling our own mission to the communities that we serve and to our students on behalf of the state of New Hampshire.”

The Second Chance Pell grant program was established in 2015 under the Obama administration to provide funding for people in state and federal prisons to participate in post-secondary education. The program was expanded under the Trump administration and again this year. Providing education in prison has been shown to reduce recidivism rates and increase employment rates for formerly incarcerated individuals, with a host of attendant benefits to society and public safety.

“Reducing recidivism is a significant part of our mission at the Department of Corrections,” said Helen Hanks, commissioner of the NH Department of Corrections. “Providing quality education, with partners like NHTI and WMCC, is essential to the successful re-entry of residents under our supervision and in turn reduces recidivism.”

NHTI was approved to offer programs in advanced manufacturing, medical coding, and hospitality and tourism – programs that were selected because they align with high-demand employment sectors.

White Mountain Community College will offer programs in business administration and liberal arts to incarcerated people the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility.

“This is an exciting opportunity that will provide increased education and training opportunities to ensure individuals incarcerated have the knowledge, skills and abili ties to obtain employment in fields that are in high demand,” said Nick Duffy, division director of Community Corrections with the NH Department of Corrections.

Both NHTI and White Mountain Community College plan to begin the programs this fall.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 

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