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News Brief

Dec. 4, 2017DES MOINES, Iowa |  By: Nienow

Iowa provides education, training to convicts before their release from prison

Getting on the right track can be challenging for people leaving the prison system, so some Iowa programs are giving convicts a head start before their release.

Dr. Hollie Coon oversees Des Moines Area Community College’s educational programs at Newton Correctional Facility and ICIW. She says a criminal history and lack of education can prevent those who are re-entering society from finding a job that can support their families.

The community college's programs help men and women behind bars finish high school, and learn important life skills in order to gain employment.

She says last year 120 people earned their High School Equivalency diplomas through the program. DMACC estimates that its education and training programs have reduced recidivism from 27 percent to nine percent.

DMACC also partners with Central Iowa Works and Goodwill Industries for vocational training in transportation, distribution and logistics. The program provides support after release, and helps connect graduates with employers. Of more than 80 people who completed the program last year, Coon says half now have jobs.

She adds they are fortunate to have strong collaborations with those involved, including the Department of Corrections, which funds the programs.