County Starts New Inmate Education Program

inmate program
Inmates listening to a presentation. | Image by Rebekah Zemansky, Shutterstock

Collin County has instituted a new program designed to reduce repeat offenses by convicted criminals serving time in Collin County Jail.

The program, instituted by Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner, is the first of its kind in Texas.

Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education (IGNITE) is a program developed by the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) that aims to provide job and skill training to inmates.

The program provides barber and culinary classes and offers pathways for inmates to earn a GED or college degree.

Many of the classes are held via the Collin County Adult Education and Literacy program, which is funded by the Texas Workforce Commission. McKinney Independent School District has also provided instructors to help inmates attain GEDs.

The IGNITE program has already launched in inmate facilities in five states, and the program currently enrolls around 2,500 students in launched states.

According to the American Community Corrections Institute, a nonprofit that works to provide inmate education, programs like IGNITE reduce recidivism.

“Education and rehabilitation programs in prisons are an increasingly important component of the criminal justice system. These educational initiatives not only offer incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn new skills and gain knowledge in jail. They are also shown to help reduce recidivism rates,” the organization’s website reads.

Collin County Jail contains around 1,600 beds for inmates with a constantly fluctuating inmate population. County officials hope IGNITE reduces the number of inmates who would serve multiple incarcerations in the facility.

“Knowing that the majority of our jail population will one day return home, we recognize the importance of teaching inmates life skills that will help them to be better husbands, wives, parents, siblings and neighbors. We reduce recidivism and make our communities safer by doing so,” Sheriff Skinner said in a statement about the launch of the program.

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