Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All-American Basketball Star and Educator Attends a Graduation Party in a Kentucky Detention Center

                                                                  by Lachin Hatemi M.D.

Two dozen inmates sat in a big study room on a Friday afternoon at the Division of Community Corrections at Lexington, KY. This was a special meeting – inmates in the room were present to receive their graduation certificates for completing various educational programs, and most of the inmates were there to receive their G.E.D. diplomas.

It was a happy day for everybody in the room, community leaders and leaders of local NAACP were also present in the audience. After hearing a group of inmates giving a small concert, a renowned School Principal in Lexington, Mr. Wade Stanfield, took the podium and gave a very personal speech to the inmates and other members in the audience, talking about lessons he learned from his life’s tragedies and triumphs.

For the next 60 minutes, the magnate school principal discussed how he approached life’s challenges and how he benefitted from his education. Stanfield described his transition from an All-American basketball player to a very successful educator.

Such programs are now gaining popularity across the nation, but the Division of Community Corrections at Lexington takes it into a whole new level under the leadership of Detention Center’s director Rodney Ballard.

The inmates at the detention center can learn life skills and gain education to better transition to life in the outside world. The G.E.D. program at Division of Community Corrections at Lexington, seeks to put that idle time to use. In the short term, it hopefully will allow the inmates to leave prison with better education compared to before they got institutionalized.

This experience reminds us the two new bills sponsored by legislators that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Illinois’ House of Representatives last week, which rewards inmates who continue their education behind bars with shorter sentences and sealed criminal records.

The Illinois bills would seal criminal records for non-violent felony offenders seeking employment, if they receive a “high school diploma, associate’s degree, career certificate, vocational technical certification, or bachelor’s degree, or passed the high school level Test of General Educational Development” while completing their sentence. The same applies for individuals who earn a certificate during aftercare or supervised release.

According to a RAND Corporation study, a person who pursues academic or vocational education while serving time is 13 percent more likely to find employment. Correctional education also leads to a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating. These statistics show that education behind bars is the best investment we can do for our inmates.

Hopefully one day, we will see the same legal changes in Kentucky and inmates at the Division of Community Corrections at Lexington will never had to come back again, other than to cheer for next year’s graduates in their graduation ceremony.

Lachin Hatemi is a physician and a civil rights activist based in Lexington, KY. Hatemi is also the founder and partner in consulting firm, Hatemi & Wallace Consulting. You can reach him at Lachin@HatemiWallace.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment